Mother Nature’s Convenience Store

The diverse and clean terrains of the Geopark offer a huge amount of nature’s own delicacies that any hiker can pick up, eat right away, or prepare for food even by the campfire.

Would you like to taste the blueberries from the top of Lauhanvuori, cranberries from the kermis of Kauhaneva, or porcinis from Hämeenkangas? The forests and swamps in the area are guaranteed to produce a healthy and fresh harvest from spring to late autumn.

In the spring, the first foragers are delighted by the false morels emerging from the sandy forest land. After careful pre-treatment, delicious soups and stews can be prepared from the false morels. Spring and early summer are the best time for foraging wild herbs. The healthiest salad base can be created from the leaves of foraged ground elder, dandelion, fireweed and wood sorrel. Please note that plant foraging is prohibited in conservations, nature reserves and national parks.

Perhaps the one of the most anticipated berries of the summer include the favourite berry of many people, bilberry, the exceptionally diverse health effects of which have long been talked about around the world. Bilberries taste the best when freshly picked, eaten while sitting on a hummock in the forest. The sweetest pies are made from picked bilberries. Excellent bilberry terrain can be found all over the Geopark area, but the top of Lauhanvuori in particular is known for its abundant bilberry yields. Lauhanvuori has been the chosen bilberry site for people from long distances away.

The treasures of the bogs, the coveted, golden-yellow cloudberries ripen at the same time as the bilberries. In a good year for cloudberries, there can be a lot of berries in the wetlands, but the best cloudberry sites are quickly found and harvested by hard-working pickers. Healthy cloudberries are good as such, but they are also widely used in baked goods, such as the traditional cloudberry cake. Later in autumn, the red, tart cranberries ripen in the wetlands. Cranberries should not be picked until after the first frosts of autumn, as the frost softens the acidity of the berries These wetland berries could be the hallmark berries of the Geopark – after all, the wetlands form the most important habitat in the Geopark. The nutritious, mild-tasting bog whortleberry also grows in the wetlands, but it is under-used.

In late summer, the lichen-covered heath of the pine forests turns red in places as the lively lingonberries ripen. Large quantities of lingonberries, so versatile to use, can quickly be picked from good growing sites. These nutritious berries can be picked late into the autumn. You can also find the much less used but super-healthy crowberry in the same type of habitat. It is worth being bold and trying it, and using it in many different ways, much like the other wild berries.

In late summer, the lichen-covered heath of the pine forests turns red in places as the lively lingonberries ripen. Large quantities of lingonberries, so versatile to use, can quickly be picked from good growing sites. These nutritious berries can be picked late into the autumn. You can also find the much less used but super-healthy crowberry in the same type of habitat. It is worth being bold and trying it, and using it in many different ways, much like the other wild berries.

Even in the early summer, an attentive hiker can find golden chanterelles along the trails. What could be a tastier delicacy than yellow chanterelles roasted on a pan over a campfire? As the summer progresses and autumn arrives, you can find a wide variety of delicious mushrooms on the vast heaths of the Geopark and Hämeenkangas, such as boletes, russulas, and milk-caps that thrive on the sandy ridges. The verdant spruce forests produce favoured mushrooms, such as trumpet chanterelles, which often produce large yields. If you are really excited about foraging for mushrooms, you should pack a mushroom book, a knife, and a basket, and head to the forest anywhere in the Geopark either in the summer or in the autumn. In addition to picking plenty of mushrooms, you can also experience great nature adventures!

Thanks to the Everyman’s Rights, the delicacies offered by the nature of Geopark are freely available to everyone − and for free! There is always a joy of searching for and finding good sites, which is an integral part of the experience. Even if you don’t find amazing berry and mushroom spots, or manage to collect large amounts of harvest, it is not worth getting discouraged. The most important thing is to go on an excursion, to observe the environment, and to enjoy nature while respecting it.

Text: Laura Koivumäki

Photos: Terttu Hermansson, Pasi Talvitie