More and more people are discovering the simple yet exotic flavours of Scandinavia and, whilst many of us have learned how to make our own cinnamon rolls, there is more to Swedish cuisine than “kanelbullar” and meatballs. Here are a few of the Swedish foods you should try this year.
The Swedish forest is full of super foods. Cloudberries, blueberries, raspberries, wild strawberries, lingonberries… these little parcels of vitamin power are all there, ready for the picking for anyone who so wishes (thanks to the Freedom to Roam you are welcome to go looking for berries and mushrooms wherever you like)— and most of them don’t need cooking before eating either. Have them with your meatballs and mash, or for a super delicious start to the day, simply sprinkle your berries, coated in a pinch of sugar if you wish, over porridge, yoghurt or soured milk, filmjölk, and you’re good to go!
Think you know rye bread and crisp bread? Think again. In Swedish shops, there are whole aisles dedicated to knäckebröd, crisp bread, and Swedes on average eat four kilos of the stuff every year. It comes in more types and flavours than we can count. Equally perfect with a topping of cheese as it is with houmous or Kalles Kaviar, the knäckebröd has a place in every Swedish person’s heart — in fact 85% of households have some at home. Originally from Värmland near Gothenburg, it is now a proud Swedish export.
Whether it is Christmas, Easter or Midsummer, Swedish celebrations feature herring, or as we say in Sweden: sill. Food plays a central role in all Swedish festivities and Swedes like to offer a spread of foods for guests to choose from, particularly at Christmas when the julbord, Christmas table, is a literal smorgasbord of delights — including many versions of delicious sill. From mustard seeds to curry spice, the flavours are bold and fresh and paired with dill potato and strong shots of snaps.
4. PRINCESS CAKE
This beautifully green cake, which was named that way because the Swedish princesses of the early 20th century loved it so much, is a staple in any fine Swedish café. Made up of layers of airy sponge cake, whipped cream, vanilla custard — and in some cases strawberry jam — the cake is topped off with a coat of green marzipan and a pink marzipan rose. Notoriously difficult to make yourself, you can buy a delicious slice — or a whole cake — at any Swedish café.
5. RENSKAV – SAUTEED REINDEER
It may seem cruel to eat Santa’s helpers but sautéed reindeer is a real delicacy and the best known food from Swedish Lapland. You can make the dish from different types of animals but for the best result, the meat is frozen and then cut in thin slices before frying and seasoning it, finally adding either water, cream or beer and cooking until tender. Served with mashed potato and lingonberry, this is a classic Sami cuisine.
Named after the northern tip of Denmark, located just opposite of Gothenburg, and made with fresh shrimp, caviar, dill and — sometimes — other treasures of the sea found in abundance on the West coast of Sweden, skagenröra is a Swedish classic. Served on toast or as a filling for jacket potato or avocado, it is a classy starter to any meal — especially when topped with a heady spoonful of caviar.
Say “pie” to a Swede and they will think not of a British pie full of gravy but to what we might refer to as a quiche. An open-topped baked good filled with delicious cheese — in in the case of the most famous Swedish “pie”, a particular kind of cheese, from the county of Västerbotten. A strong, mature cheese often grated onto knäckebröd, it gives this pie a gorgeous taste and texture.
Swedes don’t do Pancake Day — well, they do, traditionally it’s every Thursday, following a portion of hearty pea soup, but in February, on the night where every Brit is seen perfecting their pancake flipping skills, Swedes tuck into a semla. This sweet bun filled with almond paste and cream is nothing short of delicious — and whilst it generally isn’t on sale any other time of the year, many a Swede likes to indulge in more than one semla between January and March.
9. APPLE MUST
Is there anything as delicious as freshly picked and squeezed apple juice? Hailing directly from the Southern Swedish apple fields in Skåne, apple “must” or cloudy apple juice as we might call it, is a local delicacy and a must try in the Skåne region which is well known for its artisan food produce. Every year in the last weekend of September, a big fruit fest takes place in Österlen and what’s more, they also make apply cider. Foodie trip anyone?
10. OPEN SHRIMP SANDWICH
Swedish people love sandwiches almost as much as Brits do, however they have theirs open top, often on a darker rye bread or “polar bread,” a light and soft Nordic flatbread. A classic topping, aside from cheese or liver pate and gherkin, is egg, mayo, dill and lots and lots of shrimp.
To find out more about Sweden and it’s trendsetting food head to visitsweden.com/food-and-drink