If you are out walking in Sweden’s beautiful autumn forests at this time of year, perhaps for one of our log cabin holidays, you may catch a glimpse of stooped, shadowy figures making their way through the undergrowth, wicker basket in hand, peering intently at the ground.
Don’t worry – you have not encountered one of Sweden’s fabled forest trolls – these are perfectly ordinary Swedes engaged in the very serious business of mushrooming.
Sweden’s endless forests are a rich resource of edible mushrooms, and mushrooming is very much a mainstream pastime, much more so than in the UK. Indeed, to find a Swedish family with no interest in gathering wild foods would be very much the exception rather than the rule.
The Swedish Right of Public Access, or Allmansrätten, provides wonderful freedoms not only for hiking and wild camping but also for the gathering of wild foods. Provided you observe its central tenet “Do not disturb, do not destroy”, the bounty of the Swedish forests is yours to discover!
For mushroom hunters, the few days following a heavy rain are likely to provide the richest pickings. Considerable knowledge is of course necessary to correctly identify many edible mushrooms, but one almost everyone will feel confident with is the delicious, golden Chanterelle. Chanterelles tend to grow in the same locations year-to-year, so the best spots can be jealously-guarded secrets. On the other hand, if you’re feeling in a generous mood, finding a horde of chanterelles and returning to the campfire with an armful is an instant way to make friends! Chanterelles fried in garlic and butter over an open fire is a true taste of the Swedish outdoors.
As a visitor to Sweden, it is strongly advised that you go with an experienced guide who can ensure that you identify any mushrooms found correctly. Many of our clients have asked about a field guide in English to Swedish flora and fauna, but to our knowledge no suitable resource has yet been published.
Apart from mushrooms, the Swedish forests are rich in many other wild foods, in summer as well as in autumn. Lingonberries, used for lingonberry jam (to accompany a traditional meal of Swedish meatballs as well as in many other situation) or lingonberry cordial, are very popular, as are blueberries and blackberries. Wild strawberries have a separate name in Swedish (“smultron” rather than “jordgubbar”, the name for cultivated strawberries), an indication of their importance. In the north and elsewhere, the cloudberry is used to make delicious golden jams and sauces.
Sweden’s deep, silent forests can be enjoyed on many levels and in many ways – for hiking, camping, canoeing, biking, cross-country skiing, even dog sledding. But for those in the know, those with a little patience and a keen eye, they also offer a wonderful resource of delicious foods free for the taking!
Autumn is a wonderful time to explore the forests, where you have an interest in mushrooming or are simply there to enjoy the silence and the views. Our Log Cabin Escape in Värmland offers an ideal option for an autumn break, with short breaks of just 3 nights possible during low season and the forest right on your doorstep!