Gotland is an interesting island for culinary experiences – irrespective of the time of year. Thanks to the many hours of sunlight, crops and early vegetables are loaded with taste and sweetness, which is one of the reasons they are appreciated so much. As soon as winter has released its hold on the fields and meadows, the time has come for the first taste encounters. The wild sand leek is harvested in the early spring and is a flavoursome ingredient in delicious soups and herb butter. This smaller cousin of the leek grows everywhere on the Gotland meadow landand its close relative ramsons, or wild garlic, can be picked in forests across the island in the spring. A dish that is as simple as it is hard to top is freshly cooked pasta with ramsons pesto.
A month or so later, in mid April, it is harvest season for another Gotland delicacy – asparagus. Asparagus may not be unique to Gotland, but it grows particularly well here. The first Swedish asparagus harvest is often on Gotland, along with many other vegetables. Thanks to the many hours of sun here on Gotland, our vegetables can boast extra flavour and sweetness. First up is the green variety, it, its tender stalks reaching towards the springtime sun. The photophobic white asparagus grows underground and, like its relative, can be harvested right up to Midsummer. A tasty early Gotland vegetable that is preferably enjoyed with clarified butter or a nice hollandaise.
A wide selection of fresh produce
When spring turns to summer, the pantry of Gotland throws its doors wide open. The selection of fresh produce is enormous. Eggs from free-range chickens, vegetables, rootcrops and herbs full of flavour, side by side on the shelves of the local stores and in the pots and pans of the restaurants. The sea provides flatfish and turbot, or "butte" as we call it here. Lamb is synonymous with Gotland and our sheep graze freely on thyme, oregano, rosemary and rocket, which all thrive in the lime-rich soil. Meat from the lambs that peacefully graze the wild herbs that give the meat its characteristically good flavour, can be bought in food stores, as well as from the local farms. One speciality to try is the boiled, cured lamb, which is the coated in mustard and pan-fried.
When summer comes to and end, the next harvest season begins. In the thicket of the forest, the exquisite dewberries are ripening. They particularly like the calcareous soil of the island and only grow wild. The dewberry, known as ‘salmbär’ on Gotland, is related to the blackberry and looks very similar. The berries are used primarily for cooking jam and this ‘salmbärssylt’ is a delicious accompaniment to the island's signature dessert - saffron pancake.
Autumn is also truffle time. When this subterranean fungus ripens, it gives off a distinct scent that enables trained dogs to locate it in among the hazel and oak trees. A flavour to explore for gourmet and gourmand alike. The price may be high, but a small piece of truffle is enough for a great gastronomic experience and a truly magical taste. If you are a fan, don’t miss the truffle festival in November for truffle hunting, a truffle market and high-class dinners, amongst many other activities.
In the same spirit, special attention is paid to the spring vegetable harvest over ‘Primörpremiärshelgen’ - a weekend to celebrate the first vegetable harvest of the year. Throughout May and June you’ll find special spring vegetable menus, or ‘primörmenyer’, in many restaurants here on Gotland.
Late summer then brings the Gotland Harvest Festival, a truly tasty treat for the whole family, where you can enjoy quality Gotlandic products from forest, sea, meadow and field.