There’s a lot more to Swedish food than meatballs so let’s take a look at what you should try during a visit to Sweden…
Crayfish during August
There ain’t no party like… a Crayfish Party. Really, it’s true! Eating freshwater crayfish in August is one of Sweden’s most cherished food traditions. Unlike traditional holidays, there isn’t one particular day which is considered to be ‘crayfish day’. Instead, Swedes hold these parties – also known as Kräftskivor – from the first Wednesday in August and into the early weeks of September.
Like any true celebration that orientates around food, it’s customary to wear novelty paper hats and decorate the table and hang paper lanterns. Alcohol is usually flowing in abudance and traditional drinking songs (snapsvisa) complete the party.
Marinated Salmon with Dill Potatoes
Gravlax, or dill-cured salmon, is a real foodie’s heaven. The dish has origins from France, but the Swedish twist is that they recommend the dish to be served with mustard sauce. Gravlax is often present on the Swedish smorgasbord but is also very delicious served as thin slices, often accompanied with cold potatoes and dill. Swedes love dill and have a strong inclination to sprinkle it across most dishes – rightly or wrongly!
Gryta meaning ‘stew’ isn’t exclusive to Sweden, we know, but instead of using a beef, Gryta is more frequently made with elk or reindeer making it different from typical varieties you might be used to. As you would expect, it makes for a common winter dish in Sweden, something to warm you up after a day enjoying winter activities! Alongside the typically Swedish game meat, ingredients include carrots, shallots and a concoction of delicious winter root vegetables.
The Baltic and North Atlantic are awash with shoals of herring and Swedes are pros at cooking, pickling and smoking these small but flavoursome fish. Strömming is the most popular variation of this fish and is commonly pickled which is called Surströmming’ literally meaning ‘sour herring’. It is usually marinated with matjes which is made from vinegar and often cider with additional herbs and spices, but sour cream, mustard and even curry are also popular alternative marinades. Herring is popular with potatoes and dill but also as a lighter snack, best served with crisp bread and washed down with a glass of aquavit, a traditional Scandinavian spirit.
And for something sweet…?
Even after digging into an array of delicious savoury food, there’s always still room for something sweet whilst in Sweden.
Colouring the window displays of bakeries throughout Sweden is the all-time favourite green princess cake (prinsesstårta), topped with a bright pink edible rose. Interestingly, its name was inspired by Princesses Margaretha, Märtha and Astrid – who all shared a love for this sweet dessert after first tasting it in the 1920s. And it’s no surprise these royal princesses were fans, each cakes look so beautiful it almost feels a shame eating it. But any guilt disappears as soon as a morsel hits your taste buds!
Comprising layers of yellow sponge cake lined with jam and vanilla custard, and then finished off with a heavy topping of whipped cream, the cake is carefully sealed with a thin layer of sugary sweet green marzipan. While the third week of September is officially princess cake week, this popular cake is now eaten during special festivals and is used to mark many milestones in people’s lives.
Light, fluffy and best served warm; these delicious cinnamon buns are a wonderful treat to enjoy all day long – especially when Swedes do ‘fika’. Swedes are also a coffee-loving nation, so Kanelbullar is usually served with a warm cup of dark-roast coffee. In fact, this sweet treat is so popular you could argue its a swedish tradition and so you shouldn’t leave Sweden without trying these little rolls of delight!
These tart berries look a little bit like red blueberries and, due to their high acid content, are great for using in preserves like jam or cordial. The Swedes love them in a rårörd or ‘raw-blended’ jam, simply mixed with sugar before pouring into jars. The berries are most famously served as a condiment with meatballs, but are also a traditional accompaniment to raggmunk – fried potato pancakes. You can also find them served with game, liver and blood pudding but they really come into their own in desserts like cheesecakes, ice creams and mousse.
If you’d like to immerse yourself in Swedish flavours, take a look at our culinary tour in Skåne and Copenhagen, two of Scandinavia’s most exciting foodie destinations: A Taste of Skåne.