The European Union’s schemes of geographical indications and traditional specialties highlight the products’ geographical origins and traditions. Currently there are 12 Finnish products with a TSG, PDO or a PGI classification.
Traditional Speciality Guaranteed (TSG)
Karjalanpiirakka (Karelian pie) is truly the Finnish national dish. It spread around Finland as early as the 1660s, having been seen even in Sweden thanks to migrant Karelians. Fresh from the oven and with a layer of melting butter on top, these fragrant pies are bound to make your mouth water. Karjalanpiirakka are filled with either rice or barley porridge, and their thin crust is made crispy from baking at a high temperature. These juicy pies are suitable for parties and everyday occasions, and can be served as a snack and as a side dish with a meal.
Tradition states that kalakukko (fish and pork pie) has been made in Savonia and Karelia since the Middle Ages. The people of the region wanted to make use of the small and delicious but hard to cook small fish of Finland such as vendace, perch, roach and smelt. Within the rye shell, fatty pork slices help the fish to cook into a juicy meal for travellers. Kalakukko is to be enjoyed warm, opened from the top like taking off a lid, and then cutting slices from the crust. You then top the slice with the filling and some butter. The shell and juicy interior combine to make the perfect meal. Kalakukko, with its freshwater fish, is also an environmentally friendly choice.
Sahti (beer) is an excellent strong traditional beer that is served fresh from the fermenter. It counts among the world’s most unusual and distinct malted drinks, and is one of the last original beers of Western Europe. Its main ingredient is high-quality malted barley, and its source of alcohol is solely the sugar that is formed by the malt and other grains used to make it. Sahti, made of traditional ingredients, finds its best match with various snacks, but it can also be drunk in a feast.
Protected Designation of Origin (PDO)
The regions of Kuusamo and Posio are known for their large clean waterways which are home to Kitkan viisas, a small and tasty vendace, which is often said to have gained its sobriquet during the Russian Revolution. At the time, the Koillismaa region in north-eastern Finland saw local residents heading east to participate in the building of a socialist utopia. Kitkan viisas, or “the sage of Lake Kitka” was smart enough not to leave its home region, despite having access to rivers running eastwards. Because of its Arctic habitat with low nutritional levels, Kitkan viisas is smaller than other freshwater vendace, its backbone remains soft and its taste is pure. It is particularly well suited for pan frying or in soups.
Lapin Poron liha
Reindeer keeping is an ancient livelihood that the people of the far northern reaches of Finland have relied on since the 15th century. Lapin Poron liha (reindeer meat from Lapland) is produced in the Finnish reindeer herding area, where the animals are free to range in natural pastures through the spring, summer, autumn and early winter before being brought in for slaughter. During this time, they gather all their nutrition, consisting of over 350 different plant species, from nature. Reindeer meat from Lapland has a unique, gamey taste that tells the story of riverbanks painted with autumn colours and slopes with the wind whistling amidst the dwarf birches. This delicious meat is best for celebrations, in sauces and fried.
Lapin Poron kylmäsavuliha
Juicy Lapin Poron kylmäsavuliha (cold-smoked reindeer meat from Lapland) is produced, processed and packaged in the Finnish reindeer herding area. It is prepared for roughly one week by cold-smoking and dehydrating the meat with centuries-old techniques. The smoke comes from northern trees, such as alder, birch or juniper, letting the wood powder smoulder. Cold-smoked reindeer meat from Lapland has a soft and smoky flavour with a strong aroma that guarantees a unique taste experience. This is a delicious and tender meat that is enjoyable on its own or as the highlight of a meal.
Lapin Poron kuivaliha
Luxuriously flavourful Lapin Poron kuivaliha (dried reindeer meat from Lapland) is produced, processed and packaged in the Finnish reindeer herding area. The meat is prepared by drying it outdoors between February and April for 3-6 weeks, using a method that dates back centuries. The fluctuations in temperature that occur in northern climes in late winter make the meat tender and give it its natural flavour. In his “History of the Northern Peoples” of 1555, Olaus Magnus mentions the delicious taste of this handy field-trip snack. Dried reindeer meat from Lapland is excellent for snacking as-is or as slices on a cheese platter.
Lapin puikula is a unique, northern Finnish potato variety. For centuries now, it has been cultivated in Lapland, where the long hours of daylight lend it its high quality and wonderful taste. Rich in aroma, the puikula is a beautiful oblong variety with a strong yellow flesh when cooked. The Lapin puikula is excellent in a puree thanks to its floury character and is an obvious pairing for the flavourful Lapin Poron liha.
Protected Geographical Indication (PGI)
The Kainuun rönttönen is a unique, crusty rye pie filled with potato mash and lingonberries. It is said that in the old days, in times of food shortages, the womenfolk took the last few lingonberries and potatoes from the food store and baked them inside a rye crust. That is how the Kainuu rönttönen came to be. It remains a significant part of the Kainuu region’s culture, where bread and pastries play a central role in meals. Kainuun rönttönen is an unmatched pastry with both coffee and on the go.
Puruveden muikku (vendace from Lake Puruvesi) is a great delicacy that has been enjoyed for centuries, and which has been a source of wealth for the region since the time of Swedish rule. It is noticeably silver and varies greatly in size from year to year. The waters of Lake Puruvesi are very clear, and catching the fish requires significant skill from the local fishermen, as dragnets are easily caught on the rocks on the lake bottom. The vendace is also caught on the moonlit nights of late autumn when it comes to the surface of the water – an unusual fishing method that is typical of Lake Puruvesi with its clear water. Puruveden muikku is known to be tasty when fried, but it’s also excellently suited to being smoked.
Finnish berry liqueur, Finnish fruit liqueur
Suomalainen marjalikööri, Suomalainen hedelmälikööri, Finsk Bärlikör, Finsk Fruktlikör
Finnish berry and fruit liqueurs are made from Finland-grown delicious fruits and berries. Finland’s pure, Nordic nature and bright summer nights lend a unique aroma and freshness to berries and fruit. Produced by a master liqueur-maker, the liqueurs are prepared by infusing spirits with fruit or berries until the beverage matures and achieves a rich flavour and beautiful colour. Enjoy Finnish berry or fruit liqueur as-is or use it in mixed drinks or cocktails.
Vodka of Finland
Suomalainen vodka, Finsk Vodka
Made from distilling Finnish cereal or potatoes and pure Finnish water, Finnish vodka is an internationally renowned alcoholic beverage. Despite vodka having traditionally been a clear and colourless drink, flavoured varieties are also available. Thanks to its pure flavour, Finnish vodka comes into its own in the form of chilled shots, but it also works well in cocktails and mixed drinks.