It is said that in Lapland there are 8 seasons all together, because the changing of seasons is so dramatic and distinct from each other. The rhythm of life of the Sámi, “a people of eight seasons”, has been based on the yearly cycle in nature so the year always starts here from the spring when nature awakens again after a long winter. In addition to spring, summer, autumn and winter, we have also spring-summer (early summer), summer-autumn (late summer), autumn-winter (early winter) and spring-winter (late winter). Now we are in the middle of frosty winter time. The polar night has just ended and we are moving towards spring. The days are still cold with only a little of sun.
Fishing and berry gathering have always been part of the culture in the region that we nowadays call Finland. It was important for hunter-gatherers in the old days, and it is still important for people living in Finland nowadays. Even in bad years, the harvest of berries is more than 100 million kilograms and in good years is much more. The fact that berry picking is protected legally under “everyman’s right” ensures that every household is able to enjoy this superfood. Also, fishing is still part of the culture and lifestyle for many families in Lapland who catch their own fish from some of the numerous lakes and rivers we have here. In this blog, I’ll introduce some of the most important natural products that are used in Hotel Korpikartano’s restaurant.
Cloudberry (hilla or lakka in Finnish, luámmán in Inari Sámi)
Cloudberry is a bog plant. You can find cloudberries from every bog in Inari but only some of them produce a good harvest. Near Hotel Korpikartano, cloudberry can be found from several small bogs by one of our nature trails.Whether or not cloudberry plants produce fruit depends strongly on early summer’s (early-mid June) weather conditions and the number of pollinating insects. In good conditions, the harvest can be substantial and the gold-yellow berries will be ripe by the end of July, and quite often already by the middle of July. The cloudberry season continues until mid-August, or sometimes even until late August.
The cloudberry is one of the prides of Lapland where we still have many unspoilt bogs capable of producing them. It is a highly valued berry and because of its high price and goldish colour it is sometimes called the “gold of Lapland,” and while its colour is close to orange it has even more vitamin-C than in oranges! Inside the berry you will find fairly large seeds which are good for your digestive system. Menus in Hotel Korpikartano include some desserts made of cloudberry such as cloudberry pie, cloudberries with vanilla and cloudberry velvet.
Blueberry (syn. Bilberry, mustikka in Finnish, sare in Sámi)
Bilberry or eurasian blueberry is one of the most common forest plants in Finland and can be found from many kinds of fresh forest habitats. The mixed forest next to Hotel Korpikartano is a good habitat for blueberry and one can easily find the wild plant beside the nature trail. In early summer (early June), blueberry gets new green leaves and starts to flower. If the pollination is successful and the weather good enough, berries will be ready by mid or late July, or at latest in early August. The season continues until the first frost comes, usually after mid-September. When its leaves will turn reddish and give beautiful autumn colours before they drop off. In winter, you can find blueberry’s green leafless stems under the thick snow cover, which gives protection to the stems against low temperatures.
Blueberries have always been used fresh as well as in pastries and cakes, jams, soups and juices, but traditionally also as a medicine against symptoms of diarrhoea. Not only are blueberries are good for your stomach, according to many studies they are also good for your eyes and may help for example with symptoms of intraocular pressure disease. Its leaves have been used as a tea which helps with symptoms of diabetes and it has been known for a long time that berries include a lot of vitamin-C, antioxidants and fibre; they are proven to be a real super food. Menus in Hotel Korpikartano include some desserts made with blueberry such as blueberry pie and blueberry pannacotta.
Lingonberry (syn. Cowberry, puolukka in Finnish, juuná in Sámi)
Lingonberry is a very common forest plant growing on dry and open forest habitats. One can easily find it in the surrounding forests of Hotel Korpikartano. It is an evergreen plant which makes red berries that are ready to eat by the autumn, often by late August and early September. Berries can be found and eaten also after frost and even into winter when the taste is sweeter and not so acidic. Lingonberry makes one of the biggest harvests of all our wild berries. Even 100 million kilograms can be harvested yearly in Finland.
Lingonberry has always been one of the most important berries in Finland together with blueberry because of a good harvest and great nutritional value. Because lingonberry is acidic, it is easy to conserve throughout the year so jams and juices are traditional products. In the old days it has been mixed with flours to make bred. Nowadays crushed lingonberry is popularly used with meat dishes and particularly suits reindeer and game meat such as moose. The nutritional value of one kilogram of lingonberry equates to three kilos of tomatoes. Lingonberry’s seed oils are also very good for our skin. Menus in Hotel Korpikartano include some desserts made of lingonberry such as lingonberry cake and lingonberry pannacotta.
Pike (hauki in Finnish, puško in sámi)
Pike is a common freshwater fish which lives in almost every lake in Finland. It is missing from only the most arctic waters in Northern Lapland and in Lake Menesjärvi we have a very good stock of pike. Pike is a big predatory fish and is able to reach a weight of over ten kilos although the biggest individual caught from Finland was almost 20 kilos.
Pike has always been an important source of food for Finnish people. There is not much fat in the meat of pike unlike in many salmonids and it tastes quite different than salmon for example. In Lapland’s clean and clear lakes and rivers the quality and the taste of pike meat is especially good. Pike is not farmed and is a local food so it is very ecological to eat. From Hotel Korpikartano’s menu, you might find pesto pike, pike fish loaf and pike fish cakes.
Whitefish (siika in Finnish, kyeli in Sami)
Whitefish is a freshwater fish that belongs to the salmonid family. It is a common catch in most of Lapland’s lakes. In the Inari region, it is the most important food fish for local people. In the Inari Sami language, there is not even a separate word for whitefish; their name for it simply means “fish” as it has long been the most important fish for them. If the lake was said to be fishless, it meant only that there may have been other fish but there were no whitefish in the lake. The taste of whitefish is quite mild and its meat is less greasy than the meat of a salmon. Whitefish stocks are in good condition and it is a local, healthy and very ecological product. From Hotel Korpikartano menu you may find for example fried white fish.
Salmon (lohi in Finnish, luosá in Sami)
Salmon is a migratory fish that migrates from the sea up to freshwater rivers to reproduce. In the Inari-Utsjoki area we have two big river systems with salmon. One of them, River Teno, is the biggest salmon river in Europe. River Inarijoki, one of the tributaries of River Teno, is situated in the northwest part of Lemmenjoki National park. In Utsjoki on Finland’s northern border, salmon is the most important fish for local people. These wild salmon are mainly used just by local people and restaurants usually use salmon farmed in the Ice Sea. On Hotel Korpikartano´s menu, you might find salmon soup, oven-baked salmon and glow-fried salmon.
Hotel Korpikartano is situated nicely in the middle of nature and far away from street lights and city or village lights, so no light pollution. That means ideal place for aurora watching and aurora photo shooting.
Our season for Northern Lights is long and first time we usually see aurora in the end of August, this year already on 19th August, then it is dark enough during the evening or night. And last possibility is on 12th April, sometimes on 13th April, after then it is too light already.
Autumn time is ideal for guests who are not so keen on snow or cold. Also Northern Lights look great when reflecting from surface of Lake Menesjärvi before it gets frozen in November.
During winter a good area for shooting auroras is on Lake Menesjärvi, only 2 minutes from the hotel main door! So in Korpikartano no need to hunt auroras or no need for transfers either! Also the nearby forest can give nice scenery under auroras.
Good time on our latitude is from 8pm until 2am. Earliest we have seen 4pm and latest 7am! We often say that when you can see stars, sky is clear enough to see northern lights when the sun is active enough. Sometimes the activity is so high that aurora reflects trough thin clouds or can be seen in windows, holes between clouds. Either you need not to be worried about full moon, as often then activity of the sun can be high and then aurora also very much visible as well.
What you need, are camera and tripod and useful info might be:
Best camera is DSLR, either aps-c or full frame
Most photographers come to our hotel with aps-c body, so the tips are for that.
Northern lights can fill the whole sky, so the lens is an issue.
With normal kit lens you can make pics, but it is often too narrow
We prefer fish-eye lenses, between 8-10mm
Our rental lenses are Samyang 8mm f3,5 which are good as multipurpose lenses.
Those lenses we have for Canon and Nikon
Most of our pictures in Flickr are taken either with that Samyang or with Sigma 10mm f2.8
If you have a p&s camera, it may also work fine, just make sure that you can use high ISO, between 800-1600 and long timing, up to 15-20sec.
Tripod is a must, heavier the better but whatever helps. In our hotel we have a few to borrow.
Cloudberry is a big golden-yellow berry. It has in Finnish language several names – hilla, lakka, suomuurain – depending on the region. Typically cloudberry grows on swamp areas which are hard to reach and full of mosquitos. That’s why, the price per kilo stays quite high. Crop starts to get ripen at the end of July or beginning of August making it the first berry to be ready for the berry pickers. However, crop varies from year to year, especially here in Lapland, since there can still be some night-frosts at the time of blooming.
Lappish forests are full of berries. However, the crop is very late this year since it has been exceptional cold summer. Hotel Korpikartano area is ideal for berry picking and we also arrange berry picking trips. Berry picking is Everyman’s right in Finland. Blueberry crop starts to ripen in these days and we have already found couple of very juicy berry branches. Blueberry is very healthy with flavonoids, anthocyanin, fiber and vitamins C & E. It researched that especially anthocyanin (makes the blue color) have health benefits. Wild blueberry has more the anthocyanin than cultivated one. 100g berries a dayhelps you to stay healthy. You want to know more, come and pick the berries yourself!
You can make several products from blueberry. Our favorite, is our chef’s special blueberry pie. What is yours?
Menesjärvi village is a small reindeer herding village with around 45 habitants.Hotel Korpikartano is a former school which makes it the central point of the village. From Hotel Korpikartano there is only a short drive to the neighbor village Lemmenjoki. Lemmenjoki provides different kind of activities andservices from hiking to gold panning and river boat trips with culture and history. At the moment there is going on Inari weeks with all kind of happenings in the whole Inari area. For example, there is a Lemmenjoki National park dayof nature and culture, gold panning competition in Lemmenjoki and in the evening traditional dance is taking place. Definitely recommended!