Tuesday, 16 April 2019

New foodie discoveries - Swedish edition

My fascination with Swedish food started many years ago, when I was reading Astrid Lindgren's books as a child. A few mentions of the Swedish recipes which sounded to me so delightfully exotic, made me want to try them all.
Of course, my Mum cooked the most delicious meatballs, but for some reason Freken Bok's kötbullar ( FB is a grumpy housekeeper in Karlson on the roof series) sounded much more appealing.

I am not a fan of food (or designer) trends, so all that hygge business by-passed me. You couldn't totally escape it, as every magazine, and many newly published books were shouting Hygge! Hygge! then after it faded away, there was another unpronounced Scandi trend. And then there was a craze for Swedish lagom...
Thanks goodness, it seems to have blown over as well.

And while I am probably the most untrendy blogger, by ignoring all the suggested food swings, I do enjoy trying new recipes and foods.

Last year when getting through the piles of newspapers, deciding what to recycle, I came across a promotional page for Ocado, offering a free delivery for a year. It sounded good, I've never shopped in Ocado before and decided to give it a go.
Browsing the online shop, I discovered the Swedish isle, and the rest is history.

The list of Swedish products below is quite random, there is no system, these are just the foods and drinks I bought and tried. I didn't buy them all in one go, but added one or two items at a time.

Ekströms Vår Klassika Blåbärs Soppa Originalet
I always wanted to try a Swedish bilberry soup, but for some reason never actually made it, though you can find recipes online easily. This is not a soup as we know it in the UK. It resembles strongly a sweet drink which we call a kissel in Russia, and it's made of berries or fruit with a little bit of starch like potato flour or corn starch.

Swedish foods UK

It's a light soup/drink, with 50kcal and 11g of sugar per 100g.
This is a classic Swedish dish, which you eat cold or warm. In the hot weather it's a lovely treat, eaten straight from the fridge.

Bilberries are hard to find in the UK, not sure why they are not cultivated as widely as blueberries. They are similar in taste to blueberries, but bilberries are smaller in size and have more vitamins. I've only seen dried bilberries in the shops, and never fresh ones.
Back to our soup: it is tasty, and I will definitely buy it again.

Swedish foods UK

Abba Swedish Herring Marinated with dill will appeal to pickled herring fans.
Ingredients include herring pieces, sugar, onion, salt, vinegar, dill, dill extract.
Certified sustainable seafood MSC.
Catch areas: Norwegian sea, North sea.
It's tasty with a plain potato salad with lots of soured cream and fresh dill, or on a rye bread, buttered liberally.

Swedish foods UK

The marinade is quite sweet and not as sharp as some of the British marinades for herring you can buy at the supermarket delis.

Swedish foods UK

Ahlgrens Bilar sour candy
These strange-shaped candy pieces (are they supposed to be mice? teeth with roots?) might be quite iconic in Sweden, but I don't think I'd be buying them again.
So sour, it's a bit of a sensory overload.
Nutritional information: 352kcal per 100g, quite a few E-numbers (E334, E270, E141, E120).

Swedish candy UK

Swedish candy UK

The first time I've tried a product from Felix was a couple of years ago, when Degustabox included one of their products in their food box. It was a jar of Felix sweet pickled gherkins, which I loved, and have been buying quite often.
Sweet pickled gherkins are delicious flavourful pickles. They are made, using a traditional recipe with vinegar, sugar and spices.
Add them to any savoury dish, for example, a Swedish potato salad.

Swedish preserves UK

Since then I have come  across more foodie delights from Felix.
Felix Blåbär (Wild blueberry jam) is a Swedish delicacy. It's a delicious jam, which is wonderful on toasted bread, or spooned into a thick Greek yogurt.
Nutritional information: 170kcal and 39g of sugar per 100g
Top marks!

Swedish preserves UK

Swedish preserves UK

Swedish prserves UK

And if I thought that the blueberry jam is delicious, then I was in for a bigger treat with Felix Lingon (wild lingonberry jam). This is a pure heaven in a jar.
This delightful condiment is a popular ingredient in the Swedish cuisine. Felix Jams call it "a must-have in every Swedish household".
It is sweet, with a tart note. You can have it in both sweet and savoury dishes. Fabulous with thick natural yogurt, topped up with granola, or just spooned over a dish of vanilla ice cream, it makes a tasty dessert.
It goes perfectly well as a sauce for meatballs. In fact, the Swedish meatballs with lingonberry jam is a classic. For the most satisfying comfort food add a big heap of mashed potatoes, gravy and pickled gherkins. What a treat!

Swedish preserves UK

I buy it in Ocado, but I've also seen in delis.
Nutritional information: 190kcal and 44g of sugar per 100g.

Swedish preserves UK

And one more sweet treat from Felix -
Felix Hjortron (wild cloudberry) jam.
It has a lot of seeds, so if you only eat seedless jams, then don't try it.

Cloudberries grow in the cold climate in the northern parts of Scandinavia.
They are popular in Russia, and apparently, the cloudberry kvas and flavoured water were favoured by the Russian tsars.
They make a delicious jam, which is great on warm waffles, smothered on scones or in ice cream.

Swedish preserves UK

Swedish preserves UK

This jam turns a steak or quorn steak sandwich into a feast.

Swedish preserves UK

All Felix preserves are available on Amazon at ridiculously astronomical prices. If you want to try any of them, visit the local delis or buy in Ocado, which often has offers for these products.

If you're assembling a smorgasbord, you might want to add a dish of a beet salad to your selection.
ScandiKitchen Scandinavian Beetroot Salad is a creamy beet dish. It's a mix of sweet and tart flavours.
Ingredients: Beetroot, rapeseed oil, sugar, egg yolk, vinegar, onion, beetroot juice.
Nutritional info: 240kcal and 12g sugar per 100g

Swedish appetisers

It tastes good on a slice of rye bread or crispbreads (may I suggest Peter's Yard sourdough crispbreads? Though technically not Swedish, as they are produced in the UK, they were inspired by the Swedish cuisine, and are some of the best crispbreads which you can buy here. They are my top favourite - served with any cheese, fresh grapes or apples and a glass of wine (optional)).

Swedish appetisers

Talking of crispbreads, Leksands Knäcke is baked following a traditional family recipe, and is a great allrounder.
It has a mild rye flavour, which is a great base for any toppings.

I bought it in Ocado, when it was on offer a while ago. What I didn't realise is that these crispbreads are ginormous. I expected them to be the size of a small plate, but these are huge, so you'd have to break them into pieces.
They are similar to Ryvita in taste and texture.

Swedish crispbreads

Nygårda Julmust is what I would call a Swedish reply to Coca-cola or Pepsi. It's a carbonated soft drink.
In my childhood we had a similar drink in Russia called Baikal. I don't think it exists any longer.
The original Swedish recipe goes back to 1910.
40kcal per 100ml

Swedish soft drinks UK

My elder son who loves Pepsi and Diet Coke wasn't so keen on the Swedish soft drink. It does have an acquired taste, but it was fun to try it for Christmas.

Swedish soft drinks UK

Arla Filmjölk is a Swedish style yogurt or soured milk. Ocado jokingly calls it a breakfast favourite since the Viking times.
Serve it in a glass, or pour over muesli or cereal.

Swedish milk drink UK

It's a thick dairy drink, a bit like a mix between soured cream and kefir.

Swedish drinking yogurt UK

And finally, Rekorderlig. This cider brand is very popular and doesn't need any introductions.

Rekorderlig Botanicals, a sweet Swedish cider, comes in a variety of fruity flavours - Rhubarb, lemon and mint; Peach and basil & Grapefruit and rosemary.

Rhubarb, lemon and mint has a distinct citrussy taste, well-balanced with note of mint and tartness of rhubarb. Great over ice, with a fresh mint leaf and a squeeze of lime.

Peach and basil is a sweeter cider, with a beautiful peach fragrance and a herbal note of basil.

Grapefruit and rosemary is another citrus-herb combination, well-balanced and delicious.

If you plan eating al fresco over the Easter weekend, this cider will be a special treat for any cider fan.

sweet fruit cider

I could have written a longer post, but decided to pick a dozen of Swedish foods and drinks, which have caught my attention.

What Swedish foods or drinks would you recommend to try?

P.S. This post is not endorsed by any above mentioned brand.


  1. Oooh fabulous - I haven't tried any Swedish food so I loved looking at what you tried. I haven't done this for ages - you've inspired me to start experimenting again ! :)

    1. Oh yes, do join in! I love reading about unusual/new foods. I've also been collecting info and photos of the French foods I've been buying in the last year, just need to organise my files. Actually I'd love to read your post on the French food you love.

  2. Like you, I love trying new things. That Swedish bilberry soup sounds really interesting. I would also like to try the beetroot salad, that pink colour looks fab.
    Now I'm eating a Swedish cloudberry jam, that I got from Ikea. I'm not keen on the seeds, it seems it has loads of them, but I do like the taste of the jam.

    1. Thank you, Anca, I also think the cloudberry jam has too many seeds. I don't usually mind the seeds, but these are too crunchy. Sadly, we don't have an Ikea anywhere nearby.