Due to the Nordic location, the Finnish growing season for vegetables is short. However, as days are extremely long and light, flavors become very condensed. Thanks to the clean environment, our veggies are pure, fresh and of high quality. Although all sorts of fresh vegetables are available throughout the year, Finns prefer root vegetables during the winter thanks to their preservability, and consume loads of fresh cucumbers, tomatoes and lettuce in the summer when they are best.
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Potatoes were brought to the Nordic countries in the 18th century. Since then, they have become the foundation of the Finnish diet. Several varieties have evolved in local conditions– one of the most renowned of them is the extremely tasty, small, almond-shaped Lappish variety “puikula.” It has been awarded the Protected Designation of Origin status by the European Union.
In Nordic conditions, where summer is relatively short but days are extremely long and light, potatoes do not grow very large, but flavors are strong. As the cold winter keeps the soil pure, there is little need for pesticides and the quality is excellent. Therefore, you can be certain that Finnish potatoes are good for you. Remember to have some “new potatoes” in early summer – this seasonal delicacy is at its best when served with butter, dill and herring.
Traditionally, Finns have boiled their potatoes. However, these healthy root vegetables can also be mashed, fried or used as an ingredient in traditional flat bread or in salads.
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Turnips, along with barley, cabbage and swedes, were among the first vegetables cultivated in Finland. Traditionally, turnips have been grown in areas cleared and burnt-over for cultivation. This peculiar way of cultivating enriches the nutrients in the soil and thus contributes to the spectacular taste of these Finnish veggies.
The multiplier onion is a variety of onion that has been traditionally cultivated in Finland. This Finnish variety is much smaller than the common onion, and it is relatively rare in Europe. Multiplier onions taste like scallions, and you can use them quite similarly. However, the taste is stronger.
Rutabaga (or Swedish turnip)
Finnish rutabagas are rather sweet, round, yellow root vegetables. Their season starts in late September, and consumption rises during Christmas time, as rutabaga is an important ingredient in many Christmas dishes. Rutabagas can be broiled in the oven or used as an ingredient in soups, casseroles and broths. Or why don’t you try some lightly salted chips made of rutabagas – they are truly delicious!
Tomato is the most popular vegetable in Finland. On average, each Finn eats 24 pounds of tomatoes a year. Finnish tomatoes are at their best during summer, when flavors are strong. Consumption is at its highest during summer as well.
In Finland, cucumbers are usually grown in greenhouses. Our cucumbers taste light and fresh, and are one of the most popular vegetables in Finland. Like tomatoes, cucumbers are at their best during summer.
Potted lettuce is a special Nordic innovation - the plant is grown in a plastic pot filled with peat and is then sold in grocery stores. Hence, you can take the lettuce home in a pot! It is grown in greenhouses and thus freshly available all year round. Potted lettuce is light green and its leaves are soft. In recent years, a variety of lettuce types has become available, for instance cabbage, iceberg, rocket and romaine.