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Six irresistible autumn foods that make the most of Sweden's produce

The Local Sweden
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Six irresistible autumn foods that make the most of Sweden's produce
Lingon, mushrooms and apples are just some of Sweden's best autumn produce. Photo: Leif R Jansson/Scanpix

It's autumn and that means the weather is changing in Sweden. It's getting colder and darker, but do not despair: enjoy the abundance of tasty treats autumn has to offer.


1. Mushrooms

Forget about the ubiquitous portobello or button mushrooms, there's a whole fungal world out there. The tasty, golden chanterelle (kantarell) is popular in Sweden, as is the Yellowfoot (trattkantarell) – both found in supermarkets this time of the year. Make your own chanterelle toast, wild mushroom tart or chanterelle pesto.

There are some 10,000 mushroom species in the Nordics and around 100 are edible. Get your inner outdoors person out and go foraging for mushrooms such as chanterelles, stensopp/karljohansvamp (porcino) or stolt fjällskivling (parasol mushroom) – just make sure you don't accidentally pick anything poisonous.

Chanterelles are so popular there is even a word in Swedish for a place in the forest where a lot of them grow: kantarellställe. Many Swedes have a special spot they return to every year, and keep it a secret.

2. Game

Hunting is becoming more popular among women in Sweden, losing its "macho" label as an increasing number of consumers want to know first-hand where their food came from, rather than just buying meat in the supermarket.

Venison, elk and wild boar all find their way onto menus, although concern has been raised about high levels of radiation in some wild animals as a result of the Chernobyl disaster more than three decades ago. Hunting season is usually from around late August to January, depending on the animal, with the elk hunt being the most high-profile. If you'd rather buy your own meat, head to your nearest supermarket (it is usually found among the frozen foods).

There's also reindeer meat. The semi-domesticated reindeer owned by Sami herders are not hunted, but meat from the slaughtered animals is often served as suovas in northern Sweden, smoked reindeer meat.

If you'd rather not eat meat at all, don't worry, the rest of the food in this list is vegetarian.


3. Berries

The berry season lasts until late September, but you may be able to find some left in stores even later if you are lucky. Try Swedish bilberries (blåbär, which literally means blueberries but are smaller and more tart than the North American blueberries), blackberries (björnbär), raspberries (hallon), cloudberries (hjortron) – or even better, lingonberries.

Forget about that sweet gooey stuff you get with your meatballs at Ikea, buy fresh (or frozen) lingonberries in the store in Sweden and make your own sweetened lingonberries – it's easy and delicious.

Cloudberries grow in moorlands in northern Sweden, but bilberries can easily be found and picked in forests in central Sweden, even in or near Stockholm and its suburbs.


4. Apples

As we've mentioned before, autumn means the apples are ripe for harvest, which means it's time for äppelmust (cloudy apple juice), äppelpaj (apple pie), äppelmos (apple sauce) and äppelcider (apple cider). In years with an abundance of apples, it is not uncommon to see free help-yourself boxes outside people's houses.

True apple enthusiasts should visit Kivik in southern Sweden which is known for its apple production and even organises an annual apple market with apple art. Try making southern Swedish apple crumble.

5. Root vegetables

Autumn is the best season for root vegetables (rotfrukter), with supermarket vegetable sections packed full of carrots (morot), potatoes (potatis), swedes (kålrot), parsnips (palsternacka), beetroot (rödbetor) and many more. They are cheap and make for hearty and tasty dinners. Mash them, or add them to a gratin or a stew.

6. Cinnamon buns

We've saved the best for last. National Cinnamon Bun Day (October 4th) was invented in 1999 when Sweden's Hembakningsrådet ('Home Baking Council') tried to think of ways to celebrate the organisation's 40th anniversary and announced the introduction of an annual feast day. It turns out they perfectly gauged the tastes of a nation, so the day caught on quickly and is today honoured (or exploited, depending on how much of a cynic you are) by shops, cafés and bakeries all over the country every October 4th.

But don't worry, you can still eat (and make) cinnamon buns even after October 4th.


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