Finnish Food: Local and Seasonal Food

If you are looking for a way to describe the delicious cuisine inspired by Finland’s beautiful and diverse nature, the saying ‘less is more’ comes to mind. Finland is a haven for the most natural and nutrient-rich foods with most meals made using a base of the purest and freshest ingredients found in nature.

During the long summer days, known as midnight sun, and then the cooler temperatures of winter, the wild delicacies such as berries, mushrooms and herbs are abundant and are perhaps the most naturally clean and organic produce in the world as they grow in Nordic soil, clean air and clean water.

Next time you are in Finland go native and experience the joy of venturing into the forest during the fall months to pick berries and mushrooms straight from nature. In Finland it’s free for everyone to enjoy, respectfully, with what is called Jokamiehan oikeudet, ‘The Everyman’s Rights’. Anyone living or visiting Finland is free to roam, forage and fish in the recreational use of natural areas. Grab a guide book and make your way into Mother Nature’s unique amusement park and keep in mind that you are picking the best of the best.

If you are visiting Finland between the months of June – August be sure to visit a local market place for the freshest and sweetest strawberries and peas you will ever taste. You will not be disappointed!

Here we learn a bit more about some of the fresh ingredients and dishes enjoyed by locals and those visiting:

Salmon Soup (Lohikeitto )

The Finnish diet is rich in fish and Finland is home to some of the freshest fishing sites. The most popular fish by far is salmon. A truly traditional and Finnish way to enjoy it is to have a bowl of lohikeitto (salmon soup) with a side of ruisleipa (rye bread).

Such a simple soup containing not only salmon but potatoes, carrots and leeks, is packed full of flavour, easy home cooking, super healthy and suitable for any event.

Blueberry Pie (Mustikkapiirakka)

During the summer months of July and August the Finnish forests are painted in bilberries, the healthier Nordic version of the blueberry. The abundance of these fresh berries are picked during the short amount of time in summer and frozen for the coming winter months. However, these are best enjoyed by all in the summer months when they are at their freshest and made into homemade pies or much-adored by the Finns, enjoyed by themselves with a glass of fresh milk.

Other berries, such as lingonberries and cloudberries (northern Finland) can be picked and used to make pies.

New Potatoes (Silli Ja Uudet Perunat)

Again, summer is much anticipated by Finns for another abundance of local ingredients – one of the most awaited crops is the Silli Ja Uudet Perunat (New/Spring Potato). Compared to your usual potato, these are substantially smaller in size, have a delightful dense texture, and ever so slightly sweet taste.

There are many Finnish mouth-watering variations to enjoy these small spuds – with pickled herring, fresh lake fish and chantarelle sauce (mushroom), fish roe or as a side dish with butter and dill for extra taste.

Sauteed Reindeer (Poronkäristys)

More commonly known outside of the Nordic countries as Santa’s helpers, Reindeer is a main source of protein in the northern province of Lapland and also widely eaten all around Finland. Reindeer roam free in the forests of northern Finland and graze on the local vegetation, making it a sustainable type of meat. According to recent studies this is one of the healthiest foods that you can plate up. For those who have not had the pleasure of tasting Reindeer, it has a strong flavour, much like any game meat and is very low in fat. Served with mashed potatoes and lingonberries, poronkäristys (sautéed reindeer) is the most common way to eat this local delicacy.

Mushrooms (Seini)

Just like berry picking in the short summer months, foraging for mushrooms is a popular outdoor activity among Finns with a rewarding outcome. The wild forest mushrooms are always the tastiest for any mushroom recipe. Just like the potato there are many ways to enjoy wild mushrooms – creamy soups, delicious sauces to compliment main dishes, flavour filled stews and sumptuous fillings in pies. One of the more traditional ways is suomalainen sienisalaatti (mushroom salad), where the mushrooms are soaked first to remove excess salt, unless of course they have been freshly picked.

From local restaurants to traditional cooking classes, collecting your own ingredients to taking a foodie tour there are endless opportunities to try the most incredibly fresh cuisine of Finland.

Check out some of our Finnish tours or ask us to personalise a trip for you.