Wild and wonderful Finnish foods

Wild food is a big international trend, but there are very few places where nature is as accessible as it is in Finland. Pick or catch your own food and enjoy.

“Wild food is local, organic, seasonal, healthy and free. It includes plants, berries, mushrooms, honey, sap, fish and game. It’s the best kind of Finnish food, and it’s accessible even in Helsinki”, says chef Sami Tallberg, a wild-food expert and enthusiast.

He’s a wild-food ambassador for the ELO Foundation, which promotes Finnish food culture. Tallberg takes groups of food lovers into their local natural environment and teaches them how to gather their own food.

There are more than 75 edible and tasty wild plants in Finland, and with many regional differences in that variety.Photo: Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry/ Archive

“The best time to go is in the morning, when the plants are at their best for picking,” he says. “By roaming through the forests we also keep our bond with nature alive. Plus, it’s good for your health to exercise in fresh air and eat food that consists of wild plants, berries and mushrooms. It’s a great activity for the whole family.”

For tourists, a foraging course is a wonderful chance to see the richness of Finland’s nature.

“For many, it’s unbelievable to find food growing in the wild so near to the city centre, for instance, in Central Park in Helsinki,” Tallberg says. “This closeness to the forest is really unique to the Nordic countries. After two hours, the tourists just want to stay in the forest! It’s astonishing to see how many plant species you actually can eat.

“Every season has its own delicacies. It’s possible to find edible plants from April until October. You can also dry and freeze plants and berries for the winter.”

Every person’s rights

You may: You must not:
walk, ski and cycle freely, except near people’s homes or in fields and gardens disturb people or damage property, disturb animals and birds
pick wild berries, mushrooms and flowers as long as they are not protected species cut down or damage trees, leave litter, light open campfires
fish with a rod and line collect moss, lichen or wood on other people’s property
set up a camp temporarily, at a reasonable distance from homes let your pets off their leash, fish or hunt without the relevant permits

Download a booklet about Every person’s rights.

By Päivi Brink, ThisisFINLAND Magazine 2016