Summer foraging is an ancient Nordic tradition, once a method of survival, now a growing mindfulness and food trend. There’s a growing recognition that wild is best and that nature’s superfoods hold powerful properties. Join these 21st century gatherers across nine of nature’s northerly larders
1 – Highland vitamins
The Cairngorms in the Scottish Highlands offer rich hunting grounds for foragers. Come spring and summer, forager and medical herbalist, Natasha Lloyd and her dog Rosie offer immersive foraging tours around the historic town of Braemar. Natasha covers an astonishing array of plants including limeflower, daisy, mullein, rosebay willow herb, rosehips, wood sorrel and hawthorn. When it comes to nettles, Natasha describes this plant as ‘nature’s multi-vitamin pill’. After the tour, she’ll escort you to art-laden The Fife Arms, owned by art collectors Hauser & Wirth, for a tasting of her homemade wild condiments including rose-petal salt and strawberries pickled in apple cider vinegar.
Walk with Cherries, a Swiss-American mountain leader in Verbier, who will take enthusiasts foraging after the Alpine snow melts. She specializes in flora, fauna, glaciology, geology, hydrology plus local folklore and orienteering courses. Her nature-themed hike showcases Verbier’s spring and summer abundance of edible plants including dandelions, field pansies, harebells, nettles, wild rhubarb, spinach and hogweed. Cherries show you how to pick them correctly and then use them to create salads, sweet treats and flavoursome pesto.
Finland was a nomadic place for a long time with fishing, hunting and foraging forming a lifestyle that still exists today. ‘Everyman’s right’ in the forests still guarantees that almost anything can be picked including delicious wild berries, mushrooms and fresh herbs. Wild Nordic Finland offers a five-hour mushroom picking tour in the famous Punkaharju Ridge area. Or head out with Anna Nyman, founder of Foraging in Finland, who will take you in Northern Espoo and Nurmijarvi regions. Back in Helsinki, check out Nolla Restaurant, which champions locally foraged foods and works on a zero waste concept.
Sweden was at the heart of the New Nordic food movement when it began in 2004. Foraging from its natural pantry of mushrooms, berries and edible plants became popular with top chefs. “According to the government, only four percent of all berries in Sweden are picked each year,” says Marcus Eldh, founder of WildSweden, which incorporates foraging into wildlife adventure tours. During the summer months, head out on an expedition to gather the Nordic blueberry, Arctic cloudberries and lingonberries.
Wild food forager and daughter of a botanist father, Sarah Watson loves taking people out in East Sussex in the south of England to collect wild ingredients to create delicious dishes, cocktails and mocktails. She co-founded the annual Hastings Seafood & Wine Festival and now runs Wild Feast. Summer foraging includes chanterelles with their delicate aromatic mushroomy flavour, perfect fried up with butter and garlic and served on a wild hop shoot risotto. And of course, elderflower for a classic cordial to mix with champagne.
Half of Estonia is covered by forest, making foraging an important part of local cuisine. Saaremaa, its largest island, nicknamed ‘Spaaremaa’ due to its high density of spas, is a great place to experience foraging traditions as part of a wellness retreat. The spa treatments often use natural ingredients such as red algae sourced straight from the beaches. The powerful juniper is used during massages to cleanse the body. The Kogi Bog Hiking Trail through Saaremaa’s bogs includes a cranberry-picking trail. Come in spring for the best herring, tench and pike fishing.
Foraging is second nature in Latvia, and with Riga sitting in the Vidzeme region, known for its rolling forest and countryside, the capital is known for its use of seasonal produce handpicked from the outskirts of the city. Restaurant 3 serves wild and modern Latvian cuisine with seasonal menus. Or head to 3 Chef Restaurant where you can buy local ingredients from the highly regarded Riga Central Market with chef Martins Sirmais, then cook with him back at the restaurant.
The wild and pristine Trøndelag region provides some of Norway’s most abundant foraging adventures. Seafood is a focus here with seashore foraging, wild salmon fishing and diving for scallops all local pastimes. Up Norway offers a road trip across the region with daily culinary experiences, tastings and lectures on biodynamic farming, microbrews, and a five-course seafood lunch, plus an introduction to local foraging at Stokkøya. Visitors will also take a scenic drive around the Inderøya peninsula in the Trondheimsfjord along The Golden Road.
Adele Nozedar of Brecon Beacons Foraging takes guests out on a three-hour guided forage of Abergavenny in Monmouthshire. The tour begins with some urban foraging around the historic market town before heading out into rural parts to gather nuts, berries and fungi. Alternatively, botanical gin workshops begin with a short forage in the countryside and gardens in Llanfrynach, learning about the history of gin, followed by an exploration of the wide array of foraged herbs and spices available to create a unique taste.