The taste of Swedish summer
Swedish nature isn’t just beautiful to behold – it also boasts many wonderful flavours. These tastes come to life during Sweden’s long summer days, resulting in an explosion of edible flora, both in the countryside and in Swedish cities. And even if a typical Swedish summer is on the shorter side, you can still enjoy these tastes throughout the year. All it takes are some traditional food preserving methods that have stood the test of time.
Although many might associate Swedish cuisine with our meatball dish, there really isn’t anything more Swedish than food preserving. Refining raw ingredients and extending their shelf-life is in the Swedish DNA. In times gone by, food preserving methods were a way to survive long winters – today, these techniques are used for flavouring and environmental reasons.
Two of the country’s foremost culinary experts, chef Elvira Lindqvist and food chemist and ‘taste pioneer’ Lena Engelmark Embertsén often preserves Sweden’s delicious tastes of summer. They use traditional curing techniques such as salting, pickling, drying, freezing and fermenting to create innovative flavour combinations of everything from dandelions and stinging nettles growing on every patch of grass, to raw ingredients you might not even know are edible. You can enjoy preserved summer foods in many restaurants, shops and food markets all over Sweden.
Chef Elvira Lindqvist and food chemist Lena Engelmark Embertsén
Discover 22 unique flavours created by forager and food chemist Lena Engelmark Embertsén and award winning chef Elvira Lindqvist. Learn more about preservation and places to visit that work sustainably and where you can experience tasty summer flavours in Sweden.
Photo: Bianca Brandon Cox /Visit Sweden
The chemist and the chef
Lena Engelmark Embertsén and Elvira Lindqvist might have different backgrounds and skillsets, but share a passion for flavour and ingredients. Lena is a trained chemical engineer who has specialised in picking out nature’s flavours, combining and preserving them in exciting new ways. She runs the farm Högtorp gård, which dates back to the 17th century, where she creates a unique selection of produce, all with a focus on organic production and biodiversity. Lena's food products are to be found in many White Guide and Guide Michelin restaurants and have even been served at the Nobel Banquet in Stockholm City Hall.
Elvira is one of Sweden's most innovative chefs today, creating some of the country’s most flavoursome dishes. She has been named Stella Chef of the Year at the Stella Gala, an event highlighting prominent women in Swedish cuisine. Elvira has also worked as a kitchen manager at the acclaimed Fotografiska museum restaurant, which has been awarded the Michelin Guide's Sustainability Emblem and was recently named the world's best museum restaurant. Elvira is classically trained in Scandinavian cuisine and is passionate about sustainability and inclusivity in the hospitality industry. In August 2021, she opened her own restaurant, Oxenstiernan, in central Stockholm with Sebastian Schildt. Here you can enjoy innovative Swedish dishes in a setting from the 1700s.
Food innovation from all over Sweden
Lena and Elvira are far from the only ones in their quest to combine traditional food preservation techniques with new recipe ideas. Here are some of the restaurants, shops and food markets that are furthering the art of Swedish cuisine – preserving, refining and experimenting with the creation of sustainable taste sensations throughout the year. Next time you visit Sweden, make sure to give these a try.
- DUÅ Umeå, Umeå (northern Sweden)
A gourmet delicatessen with a focus on quality, inspiring tastes and customer service. Where you’ll find cheeses and other handcrafted foods, with everything from smoked, air-dried produce to locally crafted, bean-to-bar chocolates with a taste of Norrland, as well coffee from the local Costas Roastery. Explore the changing seasons’ unique flavours in a selection of vinegar, fermented beverages and in DUÅ Umeå’s own jams.
- Flammans skafferi, Storlien (northern Sweden)
Visit Flammans Skafferi for glorious food that exudes a love for nature and sustainable agriculture, as well as for artisan foods and growers. The team at Flammans harvest, smoke, air-dry and preserve a selection of raw produce, exquisitely imbued with flavours from the Jämtland mountains, forests and lakes.
- Sav, Östersund (northern Sweden)
A unique, Swedish winery and drinks producer who create handcrafted beverages with birch sap, harvested from the Storsjön area in Jämtland, northern Sweden. Sav’s name means birch sap in Swedish, and its first wine, Sav Sparkling, is based upon a recipe from 1785. Today, their sparkling wine has been joined by several other artisan beverages, both with and without alcohol. SAV offer guided tours and tastings.
- Skoogs krog, deli och bistro, Funäsdalen (middle Sweden)
A family-owned business in the Funäsfjällen mountains, with a restaurant, bistro and delicatessen, as well as lodgings. Skoogs work closely with local producers to source everything from raw ingredients to the restaurant’s crockery, with much of the raw produce coming from Skoogs’ own farms in Funäsdalen.
- Rutabaga, Stockholm (middle Sweden)
Modern fine dining with a plant-based twist! Rutabaga combines Swedish, lacto-ovo-vegetarian produce with influences from all over the world, and uses curing methods throughout the year to enhance and offer unique taste experiences. Located in Stockholm’s historic Grand Hotel, Rutabaga has been awarded the Pioneer of the Year Award by the prestigious White Guide. It’s run by restaurateur Mattias Dahlgren, who has, among other accolades, been named Taste Maker of the Year at Sweden’s national Restaurants Awards event.
- Dr. Mat, Stockholm (middle Sweden)
Dr. Mat – meaning ‘Dr. Food’ – offers delicious food that is also beneficial to your health and wellbeing. You’ll not only enjoy a selection of delicious dishes with the possibility of buying some unique products to take home, but you can also participate in several interesting workshops and lectures about food and health. Visit the downstairs ‘food lab’ where Dr. Mat’s team create drinks and health shots. This is where they also ferment vegetables, producing a healthy bacteria culture that can help to boost the immune system.
- Restaurang Oxenstiernan, Stockholm (middle Sweden)
Restaurant Oxenstiernan is run by star chef Elvira Lindqvist and silversmith Sebastian Schildt. This is where you’ll enjoy innovative, Swedish cuisine on a beautiful old farm that dates back to the 18th century. The restaurant has a strong focus on sustainable cuisine, with locally sourced food and beverages, and is also a natural draw for those interested in Swedish design and quality craftsmanship.
- Högtorp gård (Spruce of Sweden), close to Stockholm (middle Sweden)
People have lived and worked at Högtorp gård since the 17th century. Today, the farm is run by Lena Engelmark Embertsén, a food chemist and explorer of tastes. With great respect for nature, Lena is constantly on the lookout for new, innovative flavours which she then refines through various food preserving techniques. Visit Högtorp gård’s shop to buy many of Lena’s original and award-winning food products.
- KOKA, Göteborg (southern Sweden)
At Koka, sustainable gastronomy is a passion. It’s where you’ll enjoy the finest food but still keep a clear conscience, as most of the dishes are plant-based, with organic ingredients that are locally sourced as much as possible. Even the wine list is carefully selected, featuring small-scale wine producers that use organic or biodynamic methods. Koka’s light, original fare has garnered them a Michelin star in 2020, and a high ranking in the 360 Eat Guide, which ranks Nordic countries’ restaurants according to sustainability criteria.
- Malmö Saluhall, Malmö (southern Sweden)
A food market hall for everyone and every taste. This is where you’ll find it all – from local produce, freshly caught fish, cured delicacies and inspiring street food stands, to freshly baked cardamon buns, chocolate pralines and handcrafted ice cream. Even if you’re not feeling particularly hungry, the Malmö food hall is most definitely worth a visit. Not least for the building, a former warehouse from the 1800s, which has been lovingly restored and redeveloped by one of Sweden’s foremost architects, Gert Wingårdh.