Something Swedish


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Mushroom Picking

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I know it’s been awhile and I hope you’ll excuse my absence – I was vacationing in the U.S. for 5 weeks.

(blog post in the works about Swedish related stuff in NYC)

Today I checked off a To-Do on my “become more Swedish” goal – I finally went mushroom picking. Ever since I’ve visited Sweden I’ve heard about how popular it is to scour the forest for mushrooms. Not just any mushrooms – but chanterelles.

“Do you want to go mushroom picking” 

“Sure! How hard can it be!”

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Step one: Have boots

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When I asked my husband what we need he simply said, “boots.”

“But, it hasn’t rained in days! It’s sunny and warm”

“Boots.”

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If it weren’t for our newly bought boots we probably would have given up half way through the three hour adventure and went home empty handed.

Step two: Know where and when to go.

Not being from Sweden and having grown up picking mushrooms and berries in the woods, we were a bit blind. Thankfully, in Sweden there is allemansrätten – which means that anyone can roam into nature freely without worries of property boundries as long as you don’t destroy anything. There are definitely good “spots” for finding chanterelles, but finding one is hard, and people want to keep it their secret. Mushroom picking season is in the late summer months, August and September being the best.

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So, we headed into the forest with no clue where/how to start.

Step three: Be patient

We didn’t find any chanterelles for the first hour. Instead we found every other imaginable type of mushroom. Naturally we didn’t know which ones are edible, so we stayed clear – but I took tons of photos:

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The classic red and white mushroom – flugsvamp:

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I’ve never seen so many mushrooms! All different shapes, sizes, colors – but none what we were looking for.

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I never knew mushrooms got so large:

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Or so ugly:

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This one reminded me of a moose antler:

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 Step four: Look closely

We were close to giving up when we had our very first spotting

“Guys!! I think I found some” followed by us running to see the mythical fungi:

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Our second (spotted by me) was strangely out in the open, giving us hope that we might find more:

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And our third – by this time all three of us had found some, so we were happy:

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But then we started finding more and learning where to look. Apparently chanterelles like mossy, dark, and wet areas, usually growing near the roots of pine trees or under rocks and aren’t too easy to spot even though they are bright yellow.

Sometimes all you see is a sliver:

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Sometimes they even took some digging to get to:

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Or reaching down into a dark hole in the ground underneath a boulder covered in moss:

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Some more tips:

~ Check that your chanterelles are real – there are yellow look-alike mushrooms that can make you sick.

~ Be careful of ticks.

~ Bring drinking water.

~ Have fun!!

 

 

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Allemansrätten and Mushroom Picking

Sweden is known for many things (abba, ikea, h&m, etc.),  but one thing that is more unique and special when you live in Sweden is the nature around you. Sweden is filled with many lush forests, mountains, archipelagos, lakes, and rivers – which are not only a significant part of Sweden as a place, but also the culture and mindset.

Swedes are very in-tune with nature, and respect the nature around them. Allemansrätten (The Everyman’s right)is a constitutional right since 1994 that states: “Everyone shall have access to nature”. This idea and term has been a part of Sweden for much longer (1900’s), but was legally integrated only recently. In Sweden you can walk, run, hike, camp, swim, pick berries or mushrooms anywhere – on both privately owned and public land, as long as you preserve and respect nature. This right is also called “Freedom to Roam” which was once common practice throughout Europe, but is now a public right found strongest within Scandinavian countries. If you are not harming the environment or wildlife by destroying or disturbing plants, picking rare flowers, or messing with bird nests, for example, then you can explore anywhere.

This Allemansrätten is especially important during the beginning of summer and fall because it is very popular to pick berries and hunt for mushrooms. Picking berries and mushrooms means you need to hunt for them – find a favorite spot somewhere out in the forest and scavenge. Allemansrätten allows people to wander around without worrying about trespassing, as long as they are not too close to a residence. So, a Swedes favorite (and secret) kantarella mushroom spot might be right in your “backyard.”

Throughout September Swedes are known to go mushroom picking and come back with baskets of kantarella. These mushrooms are considered to be very Swedish and traditional  with a uniquely strong and distinct flavor. With Allemansrätten by their side, people can hike into any forest and start plucking. Most people keep their favorite spot a secret, not wanting to miss out on their tasty stash (I’ve read about methods of hiding  growing mushroom patches beneath leaves).

While we haven’t gone Kantarella picking yet, we have enjoyed a batch from the supermarket and my husband shared with me the traditional way to eat them (typically directly after you have plucked them). Try a Tasty Kantarella Smorgas!!