Foraging for Swedish Berries and Mushrooms
Småland’s tangle of forests is jam-packed with delicious Swedish berries and mushrooms ready for you to find.
Småland’s Spectacular Forests
With 3 national parks and more than 400 nature reserves, there’s little wonder that Småland is known for its wilderness. Småland’s landscape is dominated by deep forests, abundant wildlife, and crystal-clear lakes.
Foraging and berry picking are so popular in Sweden they could almost be considered a national sport. Between the months of July and September, it’s not uncommon to see Swedes wandering out of forests carrying buckets brimming with vibrant Swedish berries. While the tradition stems from ancient times - when Swedes relied on the vitamins from preserved berries to survive the harsh winters - it remains well and truly alive today.
The Swedish Right to Roam
Swedes truly value their ability to explore the outdoors, be it alone or with friends and family. They’ve long recognised the incredible physical and mental health benefits associated with getting out into nature.
Given that Swedes place such an emphasis on the value of nature, it’s unsurprising that the citizens are encouraged to explore the great outdoors. Sweden’s Right to Roam laws (allemansrätten) give everyone access private lands and lakes, including the right to forage on those lands. This means you’re allowed to pick the ripe Swedish berries or earthy wild mushrooms you discover during your forays into Småland’s forests.
Your rights and responsibilities in the Swedish nature
Swedish Berries in Småland’s forests
A quick look at a menu will tell you all you need to know about Sweden’s relationship with berries - it’s love! Many meaty dishes, including Swedish meatballs, come with lingonberry jam, while they’re also a major component of many divine desserts.
Fortunately, berries aren’t hard to find in Småland. In fact, while we recommend getting into one (or more) of Småland’s incredible coniferous forests, you really don’t even need to leave the city to find tasty natural treats, like:
Sweden’s blåbär (literally ‘blueberries’) are actually known as bilberries in English. Whatever they’re called, the plump, flavoursome balls are perfect with a side of cream or blended into blueberry soup.
Småland is famous for its tart lingonberries - known affectionately as ‘red gold’. They taste incredible in jams and pair well with wild game or red meat dishes.
While there are plenty of uses fragrant raspberries and sweet raspberry jam, eating them with Småland’s provincial dish ‘ostkaka’ (cheesecake) is arguably one of the best.
Wild strawberries are hugely popular in Sweden. They’re sweet, fragrant and they taste just like summer. Most Swedes say that they taste best fresh. In fact, many have a hard time not eating them all on the way home.
Wild Mushrooms in Sweden’s Småland
Sweden’s love for mushroom picking is such that the Swedish Government employs about 200 mushroom counsellors. They are tasked with teaching Swedes about which of the thousands of wild Swedish mushrooms are safe to eat.
Foraging for wild mushrooms took off in Sweden in the early 1800s. France’s Jean-Baptiste Jules Bernadotte, now known as Karl XIV Johan, entered a famine-ravaged country in 1810 after being chosen to succeed the Swedish throne. He made his mark by encouraging starving Swedes to pick the abundant mushrooms.'
Foraging for wild mushrooms in Småland’s Forests
As for where to find these mushrooms - well, start by checking the floors of any of Småland’s idyllic forests or the countless nearby meadows. Småland’s forests are unspoiled and entirely enchanting, so you’re never far away from forageable foods or phenomenal natural beauty. You just have to get out there and look.
The Karl-Johan Mushroom
Following this revelation, the Swedes of old crowned a popular mushroom the ‘Karl-Johan Mushroom’ or karljohansvamp. You might know it as a Penny Bun Mushroom, Porcini or Porcino. There are plenty of them to be found in Småland between July and September.
The mushroom has an incredibly rich nutty flavour, strong earthy fragrance, and is high in protein. It makes a delicious addition to soups, risotto, pasta dishes and creamy sauces.
Chanterelle Mushrooms in Småland’s Forests
Chanterelle Mushrooms are a little harder to find, so many Swedes carefully guard their secret foraging spots. That being said, you can find the prized mushrooms scattered throughout Småland.
If you’re lucky enough to spot some, you’ll be delighted by the mushrooms’ meaty texture, fruity aroma and peppery taste. They’re best fried up with some salt and butter.