Swedish woman finds toad in pre-packed salad

A woman in central Sweden was shocked to discover a living toad at the bottom of a bag of pre-packaged salad that had been in her fridge for almost a week.

Swedish woman finds toad in pre-packed salad

Sofie Isaksson in Örebro, west of Stockholm, had been using leaves from a pre-packed bag of salad, purchased at the supermarket, for almost a week when she discovered it contained more than she had bargained for.

“At first I thought it was a rat so I just screamed and dropped the bag and yelled at my daughter to come check it out,” Isaksson told The Local.

Instead, Isaksson uncovered a toad embedded amongst the salad leaves.

“It was pretty stiff at first, legs folded in and eyes closed, so we thought it was dead. We poked it and it started moving. I guess it was just chilled to the bones.”

The stealthy amphibian had managed to avoid danger the two or three times Isaksson had picked salad leaves from the bag prior to the shocking discovery.

“It was quite a big bag so I had only taken leaves from the top layer. My dad taught me the trick to blow air into the bag to make the salad last longer,” Isaksson explained.

“And then I sealed it with a rubber band.”

The incident even made the crawling intruder a TV celebrity, when the hosts for a popular evening news show telephoned Isaksson to comment on the incident during their live broadcast.

“We’re getting rid of it,” she said on the show, “but my daughter so wants to keep it that we’re waiting a bit.”

Ted Stenshed, CEO of the company Sydgrönt that distributed the salad, told local media that although unfortunate, it’s actually a sign that their products grow in a helathy environment, since wildlife is drawn to it.

“It’s not common, but these things do happen sometimes,” Stenshed told local paper Nerikes Allehanda.

Since the whole process, from harvest to packaging, is done mechanically, it sometimes allows for hungry freeloaders to stowaway.

But apart from the bonus pet for her daughter, Isaksson will receive gift certificates from the company as compensation.

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The three tasty treats that make spring in Sweden a forager’s dream

Although parts of Sweden are still under snow at this time of year, spring is in full swing here in Skåne in the south of Sweden. Here are The Local's top tips for what you can forage in the great outdoors this season.

The three tasty treats that make spring in Sweden a forager's dream

You might already have your go-to svampställe where you forage mushrooms in autumn, but mushrooms aren’t the only thing you can forage in Sweden. The season for fruits and berries hasn’t quite started yet, but there is a wide range of produce on offer if you know where to look.

Obviously, all of these plants grow in the wild, meaning it’s a good idea to wash them thoroughly before you use them. You should also be respectful of nature and of other would-be foragers when you’re out foraging, and make sure not to take more than your fair share to ensure there’s enough for everyone.

As with all foraged foods, only pick and eat what you know. The plants in this guide do not look similar to any poisonous plants, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry – or ask someone who knows for help.

Additionally, avoid foraging plants close to the roadside or in other areas which could be more polluted. If you haven’t tried any of these plants before, start in small doses to make sure you don’t react negatively to them.

Wild garlic plants in a park in Alnarpsparken, Skåne. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Wild garlic

These pungent green leaves are just starting to pop up in shady wooded areas, and may even hang around as late as June in some areas. Wild garlic or ramsons, known as ramslök in Swedish, smell strongly of garlic and have wide, flat, pointed leaves which grow low to the ground.

The whole plant is edible: leaves, flowers and the bulbs underground – although try not to harvest too many bulbs or the plants won’t grow back next year.

The leaves have a very strong garlic taste which gets weaker once cooked. Common recipes for wild garlic include pesto and herb butter or herbed oil, but it can generally be used instead of traditional garlic in most recipes. If you’re cooking wild garlic, add it to the dish at the last possible moment so it still retains some flavour.

You can also preserve the flower buds and seed capsules as wild garlic capers, known as ramslökskapris in Swedish, which will then keep for up to a year.

Stinging nettles. Wear gloves when harvesting these to protect yourself from their needles. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Stinging nettles

Brännässlor or stinging nettles need to be cooked before eating to remove their sting, although blanching them for a couple of seconds in boiling water should do the trick. For the same reason, make sure you wear good gardening gloves when you pick them so you don’t get stung.

Nettles often grow in the same conditions as wild garlic – shady woodlands, and are often regarded as weeds.

The younger leaves are best – they can get stringy and tough as they get older.

A very traditional use for brännässlor in Sweden is nässelsoppa, a bright green soup made from blanched nettles, often topped with a boiled or poached egg.

Some Swedes may also remember eating stuvade nässlor with salmon around Easter, where the nettles are cooked with cream, butter and milk. If you can’t get hold of nettles, they can be replaced with spinach for a similar result.

You can also dry nettles and use them to make tea, or use blanched nettles to make nettle pesto.

Kirskål or ground elder, another popular foraged green for this time of year.
Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

Ground elder

Ground elder is known as kirskål in Swedish, and can be used much in the same way as spinach. It also grows in shady areas, and is an invasive species, meaning that you shouldn’t be too worried about foraging too much of it (you might even find some in your garden!).

It is quite common in parks and old gardens, but can also be found in wooded areas. The stems and older leaves can be bitter, so try to focus on foraging the tender, younger leaves.

Ground elder has been cultivated in Sweden since at least 500BC, and has been historically used as a medicinal herb and as a vegetable. This is one of the reasons it can be found in old gardens near Swedish castles or country homes, as it was grown for use in cooking.

Kirskål is available from March to September, although it is best eaten earlier in the season.

As mentioned, ground elder can replace spinach in many recipes – you could also use it for pesto, in a quiche or salad, or to make ground elder soup.