Hello, Yellow!


Today in Espoo central park, the yellow beauties had arrived!

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Russula claroflava – Keltahapero

Yellow swamp russula (Keltahapero), the beautiful sun-like spark on the ground, is a delicious edible mushroom. Its cap is the color of buttercup (leinikki) and stem is greyish white. The Finnish name of russula, ‘hapero’, means fragile. It’s very descriptive name for this mushroom, whose stem easily snaps when bent. This is the easiest way to identify any russula. Also the cap and its gills are fragile.

Cantharellus cibarius – Keltavahvero

Another yellow beauty is of course chanterelle. When it emerges from the ground, it looks like someone has sprinkled golden coins into the forest. Chanterelle has a very pleasant and distinctive scent, making it an easy mushroom for beginners to identify and pick. No wonder it is one of favorite mushrooms throughout Finland.

Yellow swamp russula is a tricky treat. Although this summer it grows widely in the forest, it’s a challenge to find it before the maggots do. Even as a small young mushroom which looks perfect from the outside, it may be fully eaten from inside by maggots. You can feel this if you gently push the mushroom. If the stem feels light, you can leave the mushroom on the ground. Even though it can be difficult to find clean yellow swamp russula, I promise, it is worth trying! This mushroom as a strong hemp-like scent when fried, and the taste is very exquisite. It’s best enjoyed on its own, without mixing with other mushrooms, so that the great taste does itself justice. It goes well in an omelet and as a side dish to white fish or a salad.

WP_20150724_015 (2)When you find a chanterelle, it’s worthwhile to look carefully around. Where there’s one, there’s usually more. Both the yellow swamp russula and chanterelle enjoy the company of birch trees. So if you desire to find these, head towards the birches and look around within approximately 30 meters distance from the tree. Chanterelle is very versatile mushroom, you can use it for sauce, stew, pies and it tastes great on a pizza.

WP_20150724_031 (2)WP_20150724_021 (2)Keltahapero

Blueberry time!

InstagramCapture_b4511426-044c-4578-b420-e3b5103ad10dJuly is the blueberry season in Finland. This year, the harvest is perfect: you can find plenty of blueberries, and the berries are big and juicy. Blueberries are excellent super-food, they contain very little of calories but plenty of vitamins A, B, C and micro-nutrients such as magnesium and calcium.

Picking blueberries is a great way to spend a vacation day or unwind after a working day – hear the breeze in the trees, feel the fresh air and see the beautiful blue and green shades of the blueberry bushes. The sound of blueberries falling to your basket can be very rewarding.

You can pick blueberries by hand, or use a rake (poimuri). When picking by hands you probably get cleaner berries and don’t need to clean the berries from leaves, but your hands will dye blue. Picking with a rake allows you to pick berries faster, and you can use a colander to clean the berries. You can gently lift the blueberry bush with your other hand, to get more of blueberries and less leaves to your rake, and to avoid tearing the bush from the ground. You can find both aids from any supermarket, cost is usually less than 10 euros per piece.

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Best time to pick berries is on a dry weather, because the berries are easiest to clean when they are dry as you can just shake the leaves off in a colander. Although my favorite time to go into a forest is just after it has rained, as the scents of the forest are best after rain and the air feels fresh and full of oxygen.

InstagramCapture_3cb7e7e9-10cc-4f4f-8d4f-2d5a4b12e434Just look at these blueberries, don’t they look like a basket full of black pearls? Based on their super-food quality, they might as well be pearls! And the best part of it is that these pearls are free, you just need to go to the forest and pick them.

You can enjoy the blueberries fresh with for example milk or yoghurt, or mix them to your morning porridge or cereals. You can preserve blueberries by freezing them (add a bit of organic sugar) or making blueberry jam. Blueberries make also a tasty juice, fools and are excellent for baking and desserts. My favorite – and a very traditional Finnish food – is a blueberry pie. I will share you here my favorite recipe:

Blueberry pie

2 dl oat flakes – I like especially the gluten free jumbo oats

2 dl of wheat flour or any gluten free flour

1 dl of organic sugar

Pinch of vanilla powder

100g organic butter

1-2 organic eggs


4-6dl of blueberries (or raspberry, rhubarb, etc.)

2dl of organic sour cream (in Finland you can buy especially ‘kermaviili’)

1 organic egg

0.5-1 dl organic sugar

Pinch of vanilla powder

Heat the oven to 175C and prepare the dough:

You can either whip the egg and sugar as a foam and then add melted butter and dry ingredients, or in case you don’t have a whipper you can just mix the dry ingredients and pick the butter with your hands and last mix the egg to the dough. Latter option will give you a bit rougher cookie type of texture for the dough – this is what I prefer. Depending on how dry the dough feels, you can use 1 or 2 eggs. The dough should fee quite thick. Butter a pie tin and press the dough into the tin.

If you want to make sure the dough cooks fully, you can bake the dough in the oven for 5 min before adding the filling. Or if you are lazy as I am, just add the filling on top of the dough and hope for the best 🙂 (I have not had any disappointments that way either.)

Mix the filling ingredients and pour evenly on top of the dough. Bake in the middle level of the oven for 30-40min in 175C depending on your oven. When the edges of the pie turn golden brown and the filling looks firm, the pie is ready. If you are using a glass tin, you can check that the base of the pie has also cooked to golden brown.

Enjoy as is or with vanilla ice cream or custard. Store the pie in fridge (if there is anything left). InstagramCapture_97689d27-3ddd-4626-9fd8-2adb596c70ce

Growth of a mushroom

Mushrooms are fascinating creatures. Did you know, that the mushrooms we see in the forest are actually just a tiny part of the mushroom itself? Mushrooms live in the ground as a thread called mycelia, some in symbiosis with trees. The mushrooms that appear on the ground are mushroom’s means to spread spores in order to disperse into the surrounding nature. The biggest known mushroom is Armillaria solipides, and it covers 8,8 square kilometers which equals to 1665 football fields! It’s estimated to be 2400 years old, so it has had plenty of time to grow below ground in Oregon, US.

Amanita fulva

The mushrooms that appear above the ground have fairly short life cycle. Especially with Boletus species (Tatti) the harvest time is only few days. Let’s use Amanita fulva (Ruostekärpässieni) as an example to illustrate the growth of a mushroom. Amanita fulva belongs to the Amanita species. Finland has 24 known Amanitas, some are deadly poisonous and some are eatable. Probably the most known Amanita is the poisonous Amanita muscaria (Punakärpässieni), with its bright red cap with white warts (remainings of the univesal veil). Amanita fulva is one of the eatable Amanitas. I do not recommend you to pick and eat any of the Amanitas unless you have been trained to identify them, as the risk of mistaking it with any of the poisonous Amanitas may be a deadly mistake. Even the eatable Amanitas need to be properly prepared to remove the poisonous effect. I’m using Amanita as an example of the growth only because of its beautiful and quickly evolving shape.

 Growth of Amanita fulva

Amanitas have a shield – also called as universal veil- that makes them look like tiny eggs when they appear from the ground. The shield breaks as the mushroom grows, and part of it stays as a cup (or a volva) in the base of the stem. Here you can see only the cap and cup. For a beginner the rule of thumb is that if a mushroom as a cup (volva), leave it to the forest!

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When mushroom grows, it changes its shape again. The cap starts to change its shape and also the stem appears from the cup. Cap is a cylindrical or bell-shaped when mushroom is young.

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When mushroom grows more, the cap starts to change its shape. For this particular Amanita, the cap is first closed bell-shaped and then it opens up convex. When it is fully grown, the distinctive character appears: the comb shaped striate edge of the cap is easy to recognize. The Finnish name Ruostekärpässieni refers to the rust color of the cap.

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Finally, Amanita starts to decay. Even with the decomposed mushroom the comb shaped edge of cap is recognizable.

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As you can see from the pictures, it’s important to learn the anatomy of the mushroom and be able to recognize how it looks like during its different life cycle phases. Young mushroom may have different lookalikes than the older ones.