Swedish forests are abundant in berries at this time of the year, which is actually one of my favorite things about the Swedish summer. I love the variety and the versatility that berries offer. One can make jams, drinks, pies, crumbles, cakes, sorbets or eat them fresh. However, not all types of berries fit all types of cooking/eating. Plus, there are so many different kinds that it might be difficult to recognize them, both in the bush or in the supermarket. Don’t worry though… here is a crash course in Swedish berries.
Svarta vinbär (blackcurrant)
Dark berries, black on the outside and dark red on the inside, with quite an intense tart flavour. They might not be the best to eat fresh but they make great jams, sorbets and juices.
Lingonberries are one of the most common and versatile berries at the Swedish table. Small bright red berries with a sour taste. They can be used to make drinks (saft or cocktails), jam (lingonsylt) and as a compliment in savoury or sweet dishes. In savoury dishes you will probably find them on the side of meat, such as steak, meatballs, or pannbiff.
Blueberries are small blue berries, very juicy and not too sweet, but not really sour either (if matured anyway). One can use them in nearly everything, from pies and cakes to jams and even a sweet soup. Warm blueberry soup is traditionally consumed during Vasaloppet, a 90 Km long ski race. However, my favourite way to eat these berries is fresh with some yogurt and granola.
Röda vinbär (redcurrant)
They are like blackcurrants but in vibrant red and with a slightly more intense flavour. Their looks are quite attractive and therefore, are often used to decorate cakes and tarts. Redcurrant juice is also delicious. Do not mix these with lingonberries, both are red and about the same size but the taste is different.
Redcurrant crumble, my favourite!
Raspberries are red, juicy and sweet. Just as blueberries, the best way to eat them is fresh with yogurt, vanilla ice cream or cream. They also make delicious jams and they brighten up any cake.
Gooseberries exist in several varieties, cultivated or wild, they can be green, yellow or red. They are sour if picked too early and have a somewhat special taste when mature. If the taste is too strong when fresh, try to use them in desserts. They are delicious in cakes, crumbles and other desserts.
Nypon (Rose hips)
Orange berries, slightly larger in size than others, they are most commonly used to make soup (nypon soup). Don’t be fooled – Nypon soup is served in desserts, with ice cream or with cream.
Some call it the king of all berries, probably because the taste is so special and hard to describe. They look like orange/yellowish raspberries, although their taste is very different. They can be eaten fresh with some vanilla ice cream and they make a great jam. The jam is best on top of baked/grilled camembert cheese.
Similar looking to raspberries but black. They are sweet when matured and grow mostly wild in the forest. They taste great fresh, in jams or in crumbles.
Smultron (wild strawberries)
Smultron is just like a strawberry, but smaller and they usually grow wild. Strawberries are not actually berries, but I included these here because they are quite popular in Sweden. The flavour is sweeter and more intense than regular strawberries, so eat them fresh off the bush.
The list is endless and I could continue but I think I covered the most common ones. Keep in mind that berries are very nutritious as they are loaded with vitamins. There’s a lot to choose from, so pick your favourites and enjoy the berry season!