wild food

Wild herb picking in Finnish forest

Summer has showed up a bit earlier than expected this time in Finland! So there is no reason for me to do the mundane! Instead, I am trying to do everything I have been meaning to do here in Finland while these warm days last. As you may already know that I always wanted to go berry/ mushroom picking in the forest and this was something on top of my bucket list. but I never went out on my own as I do not recognize the wild foods in the forest. You really need someone knowledgeable to accompany you if do not want to poison yourself because Finnish forests are full of poisonous berries, mushrooms, and herbs. This is why I grabbed the first offer from a Finnish friend to go mushroom picking in the forest but we have to wait until September because that is when the forests are laden with wild mushrooms. Also, the berry-picking season is still more than a month away. Therefore, the best option was to go herb picking and the opportunity knocked at the perfect moment when a group of people from a shared-cause decided to do it together to celebrate the early summer this year.

So I went and thus I ticked off another thing from my ‘Things-to-do-in-Finland-List’.

When you live in Finland and you still want to confine yourself to the city-life then you are definitely doing something wrong. Nature is the strongest element of the collective Finnish identity and if you are keen on experiencing the very Finnish lifestyle then once in a while you have to find yourself in the forests. This much-loved tradition of getting lost in the forest is undoubtedly one of the reasons for Finland being the happiest country in the world. While the concept of forest bathing is an integral part of many cultures where Nature is believed to heal your body and soul, the Finns are famous for taking it to another level. They live and breathe Nature. Or let’s just say, this is something they are extremely passionate about.

With Nature, they celebrate their freedom to roam anywhere in the wild and collect wild foods just as herbs, berries, and mushrooms. So do not be surprised to see a Finn getting really excited about going to the forest for berry or mushroom picking as much as you would be for an adventurous trip with friends.

They say nature is the best way to practice silence so that you can listen to your soul. I just cannot agree more as I have come to realize that the silence of the forest is the ultimate meditation you need. And while you are at it, why not also benefit from the goodness of the forests?

We were guided by Anna, the very sweet biologist from Helsinki Wild Foods (a wild foods brand that brings the best of Finnish nature to your plate and promotes nature hobbies and tourism). But this is not a sponsored post if you are wondering. We were just delighted to have Anna among us because recognizing the right kind plants and herbs is extremely important.

It was such a fun-filled day of roaming in Helsinki’s Lammassaari area that we almost acted like kids on a school picnic. This place is also one of the most favorite spots of the city dwellers for nature walks. No matter what time of the year you go there, the wooded trails meandering through the wilderness will always take your breath away.

So if you happen to be in Finland during the period of May to October, just remind yourself that Finland is one of the best places in the world to experience the fun of collecting wild food treats. By Everyman’s Right, you are free to do this but when in doubt you can always book a guided tour. There are many companies offering wild food tours to enthusiastic tourists.

In the forest, since all of us were beginners, we stuck to a few plants to eat as salads or use as medicines while trying to also learn something about a few poisonous ones. But most importantly, we learned some rules of the forest which the Finnish population respects very deeply. It is always good to know the rules before you start your own foray into the forests. For example, lighting campfires and camping are only allowed at marked sites. Also, taking or damaging trees, shrubs, plants, or mushrooms other than the edible ones from the forest with you is strictly prohibited. The same goes for torturing or killing wild animals.
After this fun-filled trip when I finally got home all the different herbs I had picked up were almost dry from the summer heat but I had to enjoy my treat anyway. As suggested by our guide I made a herb-filled omelette which was absolutely delicious.

So would I do it again?

Why not? When a little effort can bring the best of nature to your plate you cannot afford to be lazy. This introduction to learning the therapeutic effects of Finnish herbs has made realize that you can literally savor Nature. You could even get started from your own backyard!
And oh, I almost forgot to mention the beautiful names of the herbs I picked. Meadow Sweet, Wood Sorrel, and Lady’s Mantle were my favorites. But the tastiest and the most nutritious one is always Sting Nettle. You can just cook it with anything and it is even better than spinach.

Even though ticked off the bucket list, this is something you just cannot be done with. This time I picked only a few strands but the next time I am in the forest I am going to bring bag loads of herbs as you can also dry and store them for future use.

By the way, there will also be a post on Finnish wild berries real soon.

*Please not that picking wild herbs needs knowledge and the pictures in the post do not explain the methods to identify a particular plant.

Photo Gallery:

Our guide Anna making a picnic of wild herb preserves.

 

The herb omelette and a few images from our walk in the forest

 

And here are a few clicks from the forest. I hope enjoy being a part of my experiences like this 🙂

 

 

 

wild herb picking

 

wild herb picking

 

 

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