BERRIES BY THE BUCKETFUL!

Finns go a bit berry crazy in summer and who can blame them. They’ve got berries bursting off market stalls and trestle tables. They’ve got berries growing out of every woodland thicket, garden bush, nook and cranny. They’ve got berries everywhere! Whether Finns go rummaging for berries in the undergrowth or buying them from the market square, the gathering of berries and turning them into delicious puddings is an essential part of Finnish summer life.

My Finnish mother-in-law is always gripped by the summer berry picking frenzy. In August she’ll come to our home laden with almost commercial quantities of blueberries and lingonberries. Her dedication to berry picking (and maintaining our vitamin C levels) means our freezer is always rammed full of berries all year round. We work hard on finding ways to use the berries. We put them in cakes, jams and sauces, but no matter how many recipes we make, we never quite empty the freezer before summer comes around again (and a few hundred more berries are delivered).

In Finland you can gather large quantities of fresh berries for free, from the woods near where you live. Come July and August there are tons of blueberries, raspberries and lingonberries growing in the abundant Finnish forests. These delicious little bites of goodness are all just sitting there in their thousands, just waiting to be picked. You just need to find something to gather this cheap and tasty harvest. You could use a cup, a basket, a bucket, or you could even fill a wheelbarrow.

It’s not just the forest berries that find their way to every Finn’s summer table. From mid to late summer, I guarantee that outside every single supermarket in Finland there will be a little stall selling strawberries from a local farm.  From these sweet smelling stalls you can buy strawberries by the litre (they measure them out in a little bucket), or as many Finns do, you can buy a massive boxful. I often see those big flat boxes of strawberries strapped precariously to the back of a bicycle, being taken home for freezing, jam making or just some happy scoffing.

So if you’re in Finland this summer, find some sort of container, go to the woods and fill it to the brim with berries. Yum yum!

Here’s our Top 3 berries to nibble in Finland.

1. Blueberry

These yummy little beauties grow in the Finnish forests from late July to early September. You can enjoy them straight from the bush, or you can make them into jam, a delicious blueberry pie, or sprinkle them on your ice cream.

2. Lingonberry

These red berries are quite tart, so they are often cooked and sweetened to make jam or a tasty compote to serve with meat or pancakes. You can also add them to smoothies, desserts, or make lingonberry porridge – a Finnish classic.

3. Strawberry

Everybody loves a strawberry and in summertime, buying fresh local strawberries is a must! Eat them with a big creamy cake, in a smoothie, in a summer salad, or just sit by a lake and enjoy them just as they are.