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Ruska (almost) and seasonal food

We were in Finland for ten glorious days recently. We were too early to experience ruska (when the forests are ablaze with autumn colour) but we were definitely in time to witness the turn of the season. Beautiful silky soft warmth during the day, hints of the arctic chill to come as soon as the sun set.

We filled our lungs with the clean, fresh air and invigorated our senses in the forests and by the lakes.

The peak of the berry and mushroom foraging season had passed, but we still spotted blueberries, lingonberries and the largest cep imaginable! Bounty, that we are cultivating in our small way in the Koivu garden, in all its wild glory!

It’s easier to appreciate the seasons and the different fruit and vegetables that grow in Finland, during the clearly defined growing periods. Nature decides when the strawberries, cloudberries and chanterelles are ripe. The brief, intense heat of a Finnish summer and the prolonged frozen winter means that plants make the most of their day in the sun! Berries are plump and juicy and vegetables are crisp and flavorsome.

When I first started to travel to Finland with Terry, I would bemoan the lack of asparagus in August or avocados and aubergines in December. I was so used to being able to buy any fruit or vegetable at any time of the year and considered convenience over sustainability and taste. Over the years, the breadth of produce in Finnish shops and supermarkets has increased but I now really appreciate the seasonality of produce that leads to tastier food, flavours that represent and evoke a sense of time and place and growing methods that work with, rather than against, nature.

At Koivu, we aim to use fresh, seasonal and locally produced ingredients in all of our dishes. We develop menus that showcase the flavours that are at their ripest and finest at that time, to tantalise the taste buds. This autumn we will be using ceps, chanterelles, pears, apples, blueberries, lingonberries and carrots alongside the trusty potato and a selection of fish in a number of our dishes before moving on to the proliferation of root vegetables in our winter menu.

Rachel. 14th September 2023.

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