Berries: vegetable mushrooms

Berries: vegetable mushrooms

The Nordic region environment has provided fruit, berries and vegetables for thousands of years.  Nature provision has been a vital source of food with vitamins, minerals and life sustaining goodness for the people that pioneered and found their home early in the Nordic wilderness.  Seasonal changes were predictable, and sometimes also with variations of the fruit yields and temperatures.

Nature provides food

Nature with it’s diverse range of fruits, berries, grains, mushrooms, lentils, and vegetables is important food source for all the fauna that roam wild in the environment.
Birds and bears enjoy eating berries when they ripen during the summer time.  The berries in the Nordic region don’t appear/ripen all at the same time, Nature has it’s own time pace, e.g. there is a considerable time delay between e.g. strawberries-bilberries and Lingonberries. The flowering of the Bilberry and Lingonberry happens at a similar time frame, at least within the same 3-4 week period of each other (my observation), the wild strawberries flower very early in summer.

Nature also with the mushrooms in autumn time, the many different types of mushrooms appear in their own time frame, often when one type of mushrooms appear and stay for 3-4 weeks, then wilts and dissolves, then other types of mushrooms appear for about the same time duration (depending on the conditions at the time).  The pacing that appears in the growing seasons in nature is very practical for the space available, and from the fresh “provisions” aspect.

Berries: vegetable mushrooms everywhere

Nature supplies many types of berries in the Nordic region of Finland e.g; wild strawberry, raspberry,  bilberry, Lingonberry, burging-thorn berry ( Hippophaë rhamnoides), rowan berry, Cloudberry, Redcurrant, blackcurrant, and juniper berries, just to name the most common ones.

Traditional cultural custom is to gather and harvest berries and mushrooms during the summer/autumn season, as Nature provides.  The Lingon berries are very acidic, and have their own preservative qualities, they can be crushed and stored in a clean tub with a lid without any additives/added sugars, and it keeps well through out the autumn, winter, spring season (8 months).  Traditionally cellars were dug underground on a sloping hill side, with sufficient dirt over the top, and a double door to stop the fruit and vegetables freezing up during the winter time.  Also the snowfall on top (50-100cm) is a very affective insulation against temperatures dropping below -‘C.  Underground there is constant heat, rarely will the winter frost bite down below 1-2m depth. Hessian bags were also used to cover the potato bays, carrot could be covered with clean river/lake sand, and beetroots, turnips, peas and other were also stored in separate compartments of the cellar.  Root vegetables usually survived well especially if the cellar was made/designed using the knowledge and experience from the accumulated knowledge of the previous generations.

Strawberries, Bilberries, red currants, black currants were made into jams and into concentrated fruit juice which were bottled and stored in cellars.

Mushrooms were often preserved, the mushrooms could be blanched, sliced and with salt added they would keep well.  The use of  salt as a preservative, goes back a long time, it is universal in practice, preserving fish, meat and vegetables.

Berries were used extensively later on, in our recent modern times;  added to baked products, desserts and frozen goods, or sold as frozen products. Berries: vegetables mushrooms are a great source of minerals,  vitamins and general nutrition, as well as making the Natural outdoors world a brighter and more interesting place to explore and to discover, at times with real fruit incentives waiting around the corner.

Click below to see some pictures of Nordic berries.