Fall has finally come to Stockholm and the archipelago has been lit up with bright reds and yellows. But the fall is not just for taking idyllic walks though nature or the city, cozy candlelight dinners, and spending time with friends and family; for many Swedes, it also means that they finally get to hunt for and enjoy the gold of the woods: Sweden’s many mushroom varieties.
As we aren’t immune to the allure of the woods in the fall ourselves, we asked our excellent chef Malin Söderström to compose a dinner menu with a focus on mushrooms found directly in the Swedish woods. The result of this hard work is served aboard one of our most beautiful boats: the M/S Gustafsberg VII. What awaits you here, for instance, is kroppkakor, potato balls and a truly beloved classic Swedish delicacy, filled with chanterelle mushrooms and cheese and served with lingonberry sauce, truffles, and browned butter. Or perhaps you’re more in the mood for duck breast with fondant potatoes, braised king oyster mushrooms, and smoked porcini mushrooms? Who could really resist that?
So, if you’re like us, book a spot at our on-board restaurant on October 15 or 16 when our mushroom-themed fall dinner cruises take place. And of course, our restaurant has been certified by KRAV, a Swedish label attesting that our food maintains the highest ecological standards.
Among the many things that make Sweden so fantastic is the allemansrätt, the Swedish law of the Right of Public Access. According to this delightful national idiosyncracy, you may pick flowers, berries, and mushrooms in the woods. During the fall, the woods are teeming with novices as well as old hands, all looking to fill their basket with delicious mushrooms and dreaming of stumbling across the elusive golden carpet of chanterelles. However, there are some restrictions: certain plants and flowers may be protected, and the picking of any kind is strictly prohibited in national parks and nature preserves.
Picking mushrooms is a fun activity for the whole family that combines exercise out in the fresh air with learning about nature in a fun way. And although trying to find mushrooms may seem hopeless at times, a patch that nobody’s managed to find yet may be hidden just behind the next tree. Also, the woods are filled with other treats this time of year, above all the wild Swedish blueberries, the smaller and infinitely tastier version of the blueberries you find in the supermarkets. And keep in mind to pack a Swedish fika for a break in the woods – coffee, juice, water, and some snacks keep the energy levels up.
King oyster mushrooms, yellowfoot chanterelles, birch bolete, saffron milk cap, trumpet of death (why anybody would have picked this name for a tasty mushroom is beyond us), Slippery Jack (again, no idea where the name comes from, but we’re fans), or the cauliflower mushroom – Sweden’s nature offers an embarrassment of riches when it comes to edible mushrooms. But keep in mind to only go for those that you’re sure of as some varieties are inedible or even poisonous. Regular chanterelles, yellowfoot chanterelles, and king oyster mushrooms are all easily identifiable and many pickers hold them in the highest esteem anyway, making them the ideal choice for less-than-seasoned gatherers.
Try your luck in the woods around Stockholm or discover the islands in the archipelago with a trip on a Cinderella boat while you’re at it. And to give you some pointers: regular chanterelles can often be found in the same spot year after year, so that a lot of more experienced mushroom enthusiasts cultivate their own maps that they protect like the apple of their eye. But generally speaking, these mushrooms prefer spruce and mixed coniferous forests and like growing close to birch trees and in hard, packed soil, often conveniently close to forest trail. Yellowfoot chanterelles can be found all throughout Sweden and often hide among the moss of pine and coniferous forests, preferably in nutrition-poor and slightly sour soil. If you’re looking for king oyster mushrooms, keep your eyes peeled in pine and deciduous forests all over Sweden.
Getting home and having to take care of the mushrooms you found can be pretty annoying, so taking care of that cleaning them with a brush right there and then in the woods considerably speeds up the process at home. Remember: fresh mushrooms are perishable, so either preparing and eating them right away or storing them away safely as soon as possible is a good idea, and most people first dry and then freeze them. That way, you’re able to whip out treats and delicacies straight from the Swedish woods all year round!
We wish you a good mushroom and berry hunt in the woods and welcome you aboard our fall cruises!