When you’re staying in the remote wilderness in Finland, it can be difficult to reach the nearest shops and restaurants. Thankfully, Finland is one of the best places in the world for wild food: finding your own ingredients in the wild and cooking them using natural methods. It is a long tradition in Finland, stemming back to nomadic times, and is still practised today by country dwellers and holidaymakers. Most rental summer cottages come with a stove or fire pit that you can use to cook over. Here’s how you can find and prepare your own lunch in the Finnish countryside.
Berries and mushrooms
Searching the forest floor for wild berries and mushrooms is one of the most popular summer activities in Finland. It is cheap and accessible and can teach you a lot about foraging. Wild strawberries and raspberries are easy to find here, and chanterelle mushrooms also grow in abundance at the bases of trees. If you are lucky, you may even find some rare mushrooms.
If you are new to foraging, you will need a guide, or at the very least a guidebook, to tell you what to pick and what is safe to eat. The best way to avoid accidentally consuming something poisonous is to pick only those plants and fungi that you can identify and know for certain are safe.
Finding wild plants and herbs to flavour your food is a larger challenge for the untrained eye. If you use a guide, you can find many tasty herbs that are safe to eat and use them to make everything from tea to syrup. Pine needles, nettle leaves and lichen can all be used to flavour food. Wood sorrel is a common edible plant, notable for its small white flowers. Sheep’s sorrel also goes very well with fish.
The Finnish countryside may offer plenty of wild animals that can make a tasty meal, but hunting is rigorously regulated in Finland and hunting permits are difficult to obtain. The good news is that fishing licenses can be purchased easily, and the hundreds of thousands of lakes in Finland offer up over 100 different species of fish to catch. The clear, clean waters of Finland also mean that they are perfectly safe to eat.
Cooking your ingredients
Using a campfire, fire pit or stove with some gathered firewood, there are many things you can do with the ingredients you have found. Mushrooms and onions can easily be made into soup, while fish can be smoked, fried or grilled. Berries, once washed, can be used to flavour food or eaten on their own for dessert.
Zester Daily has several recipes that can be made with ingredients foraged from the Finnish countryside, including carrots with sweet cicely and salmon fillet with daisy shoots. This is Finland has recipes for salmon soup, pikeperch and lingonberry porridge, among others. If you are creative and daring with your recipes, you will be amazed at the number of meals you can cook with foraged ingredients in Finland.