Autumn

Autumn has arrived here in the Nordic region of Finland.

The signs of autumn are visible in the birch tree leaves, and the strengthening winds of the autumn season. The autumn season is like a door that is closing on the many vital tasks of every day life, especially in the previous centuries gone by.

September is the beginning of Autumn in the Nordic region, September is also the last window of opportunity for foraging and gathering of forest mushrooms and the cranberries (lingonberries).

Many of the favorite autumn forest mushrooms and Ceps have come and gone by September, e.g. Chanterelle’s and the Boletus edulis Cep’s.  A very popular mushroom to prepare and store is the Lactarius, there are many types of mushrooms within the Lactarius group here locally, most of them edible, but they mostly require a preparation of boiling them in water for 10 min, then rinsing out in cold water until cool, and chilling. There are are some exception, e.g. lactarious deliciosus (no in water boiling required).

The prepared Lactarious mushroom then can be stored in a deep freezer, or salting very heavily. There is also the Lactarius helvus mushroom, that looks very similar to the above two Lactarius, but the Lactarius helvus is not edible, not even after boiling them for ten minutes, they cause belly aches.

The bilberry season is over for another year now in autumn 2011, the berries are mostly over ripe, and not suitable for picking, snacking for a few berries is still possible but many of the berries squish between fingers and ooze out a purple/blue bilberry bland juice.

The Vihta/Vasta season is also going out fast, the leaves of the birch trees have started to change color in this autumn and very soon will fall off the branches.  A Vihta without the leaves is more like a brush sweeper for the pavement than a Vasta for the back in the sauna house.

The wheat and the oat crops have been harvested from their fields before the autumn rains arrive, also the potatoes need to be gathered in before the rains come in autumn. Many of the fruit trees on the local farm houses still have apples on the trees, they also will be gathered in the autumn season.

Autumn season by nature and tradition a very busy time at the farmhouse for harvesting food crops and the preparation of food for the long winter ahead. Much of the berries gathered were made into condensed fruit juice, redcurrants, blackcurrants, bilberries, cranberries and others, also preserving of fruit jams and other fruits, salting and preserving of mushrooms, fish, and vegetables. The freeze drying of meat and fish usually is done during the winter time when the air is sufficiently -‘C cold and dry.

In the centuries past autumn season was the season when the cellar was filled with many types of raw vegetables: e.g. potatoes, onions, carrots, turnips, beetroots, dried sweet peas, and preserved fruits and juices. Even today many people on the land still have an underground cellar where the vegetables and preserved fruit are stored during the winter months, it is a very practical way of storing food here in the Nordic region.

Pictures of some Nordic Berries and mushrooms.