Seasonal Finnish Treats: What to Enjoy and When
In Finland, the changing seasons bring not only shifts in the landscape but also in the culinary traditions that are deeply embedded in the country's culture. From the fresh greens of spring to the hearty dishes of winter, Finnish cuisine offers a plethora of seasonal treats that delight the palate and offer a glimpse into the nation's rich heritage. Here’s a guide to Finnish seasonal treats and the best times to savor them.
Spring: A Time for Fresh Beginnings
- Raparperi (Rhubarb): As the snow melts and green shoots emerge, rhubarb makes its way into Finnish kitchens. Enjoy it in pies, jams, or as a compote. Its tartness is a refreshing herald of spring.
- Sima (Finnish Mead): A traditional drink for Vappu (May Day), Sima is a lightly fermented lemonade that marks the beginning of spring celebrations. It's often accompanied by tippaleipä (funnel cakes).
Summer: The Season of Abundance
- Mansikka (Strawberry): Finnish strawberries are celebrated for their intense flavor. They peak in midsummer, enjoyed fresh, as a jam or in cakes, especially the iconic mansikkakakku (strawberry cake).
- Uudet Perunat (New Potatoes): Paired with dill and butter, new potatoes are a simple yet beloved summer treat. They symbolize the joy of the summer harvest.
- Grilled Fish and Meats: Summer in Finland sees a lot of outdoor grilling, with freshly caught fish and various meats taking center stage at many gatherings.
Autumn: Harvest and Hearty Flavors
- Sienet (Mushrooms): Autumn is mushroom season. Forests abound with chanterelles and porcini, which are used in soups, sauces, and pies.
- Riista (Game): The hunting season brings game such as moose, deer, and wild fowl to the table, often accompanied by wild berries and mushrooms.
- Omena (Apple): Finnish apple varieties ripen in the fall, finding their way into delicious pies, cakes, and ciders.
Winter: Comfort and Celebration
- Joulutorttu (Christmas Tarts): These star-shaped tarts filled with plum jam are a Christmas staple, enjoyed with glögi (mulled wine).
- Lanttulaatikko (Swede Casserole): Part of the traditional Christmas dinner, this sweet and savory casserole made from swedes (rutabagas) is a seasonal favorite.
- Hernekeitto (Pea Soup): A thick and hearty pea soup, traditionally served on Thursdays throughout the year but especially appreciated during the cold winter months, followed by pannukakku (oven-baked pancake) for dessert.
- Salmiakki (Salty Licorice): This polarizing treat is a staple in Finnish culture, enjoyed in various forms from candy to ice cream, regardless of the season.
- Karjalanpiirakka (Karelian Pies): These rice-filled pastries are a traditional snack, often spread with egg butter and enjoyed all year round.
Each season in Finland offers its own unique flavors and traditions, inviting locals and visitors alike to partake in the country’s culinary journey through the year. Whether you're warming up with a bowl of hernekeitto in the winter or enjoying fresh mansikka in the summer, Finnish seasonal treats provide a delicious way to experience the country's culture and natural bounty.