In Finland's forests everyone can freely pick wild berries and mushrooms thanks to liberal laws of access to the land, known as Everyman's right (www.ymparisto.fi).
In late summer many Finnish families head out to the woods to pick berries, and happy children with their faces covered in bilberry juice are a common sight. The best picking season for most mushrooms and berries runs from late July to early October. Some of the most common and delicious varieties of berries and mushrooms are described below.
Take care when picking berries and fungi, as some varieties are poisonous. If you are not sure, you can ask other local pickers for advice. Note that it is considered impolite to gather mushrooms and berries too close to other pickers, while picking in the gardens of private homes is prohibited.
- Dark blue bilberries (Vaccinium myrtillus) grow in forests throughout Finland. They are delicious eaten fresh and raw, and many people use them to make pies and cakes.
- Bright red lingonberries (Vaccinium vitis-idaea) are even easier to find and pick. Though they taste quite bitter if eaten alone, Finns use them widely to make healthy jam and traditional milky desserts.
- Sharp-eyed pickers may also find wild strawberries (Fragaria vesca) and raspberries (Rubus idaeus) in woodland.
- Exquisite crimson cranberries (Vaccinium oxycoccos) and orange cloudberries (Rubus chamaemorus) can be found growing in marshy areas.
- Yellow, funnel-shaped chanterelles (Cantharellus cibarius) may be the most popular mushrooms among Finnish pickers. Two related species, the black horn-of-plenty (Craterellus cornucoipioides) and the yellowfoot (Cantharellus tubaeformis) are also delicious fried in butter, or used as ingredients in soups, sauces or pies.
- Ceps (Boletus) are bigger and easier to spot, but it's important to pick them soon after they start to grow, as insects also find them irresistible.
- Russulas, milkcaps (Lactarius) and many other edible fungi are also picked by Finnish families to use in salted preserves.
More Tips about Finnish Mushrooms and Berries: