"Foraging for food is one of my favourite things to do"

Isabelle, Nicola, Lucy and Jonathan Foleher, Vebomark, with dog Kya.
Isabelle, Nicola, Lucy and Jonathan Foleher, Vebomark, with dog Kya.

Nicola Foleher has always been an outdoors person, but northern Sweden's bounteous supply of wild berries and mushrooms has ensured she and her family spend even more time outside, reaping the benefits of nature's larder.

Skellefteå kommun 12 juni 2023 09:00

Since we moved here I've become a little obsessed with the Swedish approach to the outdoors and living in harmony with nature. 

I find everything about this attitude to the natural world truly fascinating. And I have found myself much more able to tune into Sweden's love for the outdoors, compared to our life in England.

Don’t get me wrong, back in England we were outdoors kind of people. We loved taking long walks in the countryside near our home, messing around in the woodland and rivers and also exploring the Lake District, an outstanding area of beauty in northern England with wonderful mountains to hike and lakes to sail on.

But here it feels like people are more attuned to the changing of the seasons and they adapt to make the most from that season and being out in nature. 

For instance, one of my favourite things since moving to Skellefteå has been to partially live off the land and forage for food. 

Raspberries are a real treat.

I am new to the world of gardening and am stepping gingerly into the unknown, but I feel really excited to learn as much as I can and to start to develop our garden and greenhouse areas into beautiful and practical parts of our land - parts that not only look good but provide us with food.

One thing I have learned about is birch tapping to harvest delicious birch sap. I had absolutely no idea that you could do this and the sap not only tastes delicious but it has so many great health benefits! ┣@@A friend of ours, Carla, shared her method of taking sap which is potentially less harmful to the tree and that is to cut the end of a hanging branch and attach a bottle directly to it rather than drilling a hole in the trunk, fixing a tube and then tying a bottle to the tree. It seems much easier and less likely to do long-term damage to the tree.

Perhaps my favourite fruit to search for are the tiny strawberries, (smultron), that grow in the wild. Often you smell them first and then you spot them. The fragrance and the flavour is more intense and floral than regular strawberries, like delicious candy growing on a plant!

The end of summer, as it bleeds into autumn, holds so much joy too for those looking to find jewels in the forest.

Blueberries, raspberries and chanterelles galore! I'm nervous about picking mushrooms but there is no mistaking that golden little trumpet once you know what you are looking for. It takes some finding and many Swedes I know like to keep their chanterelle spots secret, but once you find a place you are rewarded throughout the season and every year after!

Blueberries are abundant everywhere so you can scoop kilos of those vitamin-packed pearls of goodness to get you through the cooler months, and indeed through winter if you dedicate yourself and get tonnes in the freezer. 

The same goes for the mushrooms. And then of course the real treasure, those little golden nuggets that are so tricky to find; cloudberries!

I had never tasted the wonderful flavour of these little beauties until we moved here and my goodness are they good. I think the first time I tried them it was served with Vasterbotten cheese, a double whammy of firsts and both utterly amazing!

Having written about all this natural bounty, I'm already really looking forward to the search and harvest this year.

This text is a column and the views are the author's own.

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