Eating seasonal foods means eating only the produce that is naturally ripe in a particular season. This carries with it a number of advantages. It will support local farmers as they will be able to sell their products more easily. It will cut back on the energy and costs for transportation, hothouse production etc and thus benefit the climate, and there may even be health benefits as you eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, and let’s be honest, it just tastes better to have a fresh apple than to have one which has been maturing, under a plastic cover in a warehouse for 7 months. Eating seasonally has been a big part of the New Nordic Food idea that has been so prevalent in Scandinavia for the last 15 years and no wonder.
Scandinavia has very sharply delineated seasons ranging from cold winters, rainy spring, glorious autumn and that 2 week period of tepid weather around July that we call summer.
The produce for each season is therefore ripe and tasty as well as probably cheaper.
Spring comes late to Scandinavia and depending on the weather you may have to wait a while for the good stuff, but once it gets started all sorts of things starts popping up out of the ground and taking a walk in the woods is like walking through a delicious kitchen. I realize this can be an issue for some, but we tend not to be scared of eating off the land.
The first things that come up are generally the wild garlic and the tart, tasty rhubarbs. When the new potatoes come up the first batch is usually sold at auction and can be worth more than gold.
You know it’s summer when the elderflower starts to bloom and the stalls selling peas, strawberry and honey pop up along the roadsides. Taking a driving or hiking vacation with your parents tend to involve a lot of fresh produce being bought and eaten as is.
Apples anyone? It’s time to start picking berries and fruit and juicing it for the winter. Particularly the Danish island of Fejø is known for its apples, and large parts of the middle of Sweden is an orchard entirely dedicated to the production of apples for cider.
Let’s face it, there’s only one thing that grows fresh here in winter and that’s kale. No matter how much you love kale and how many ways you know to cook it, that grows old very fast. So, it’s time to bring out the pickled fruits and as for the rest, well, that’s where root vegetables come in. Beets, carrots, onions. There is no end of ways to make a good soup or a delicious stew.
For the meat eaters that means loads or hearty meat dishes as well. Ham and other pork products in Denmark, sheep and goat in Norway are very much associated with midwinter.
With such varied options throughout the year we try to vary our food tours with the seasons. Many of the stops may be the same, but the food we serve can be wildly different from season to season. This means it’s always worth coming back some time, and it gives the guides some excitement in their lives as well.
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