Sun, Wind and Pine Bark

by Anna Sigrithur The Sami are known as the people of the Sun and Wind; named for the elements that they harness to survive and thrive in a sometimes challenging environment. Learning from Laila about her traditional foods, I came to realise that much of Sami cuisine relies on the process of dehydration: the extraction of water from a food lightens the load for travelling herders and inhibits food spoilage allowing foods to be stored and preserved for the long dark winter.  The Sami food traditions were developed around these imperatives. Amongst Laila’s many stories about her childhood was the story of her mother’s breads which were baked with all manner of dehydrated and ground plants, representing the diversity of the forest around them. For me, the most interesting flours were ones made from the outer and inner barks of the pine and birch trees that blanket the mountains in Sápmi. In … Read more

Tree bark

by Anna Sigrithur & Avery MacGuire Overview This post explores the Scandinavian traditions of using tree bark flours in cooking—in particular the use of birch and pine barks in the cuisines of indigenous Sami culture. Birch Papery white bark, long lean trunks with eye-like knots, the warming sweet smell of the sauna – birch trees (both Betula pubescens spp. and B. pendula spp.) are an iconic symbol of the Nordic region. They were among the earliest trees to re-colonize the land after the last ice age (Kullman, 2002) and grow abundantly all around the Northern Hemisphere with species spanning from Morocco to Greenland ( Aside from their distinctive outward appearance, many parts of birch are also used for food: their sap is traditionally drunk fresh, boiled down into syrup, and even brewed into beer (Buhner, 1998), and the small buds, harvested in the winter before they begin to shoot, are … Read more

Tempe part 1: traditional fermentation, fungal trials, and regional seeds

by Bernat Guixer and Roberto Flore Overview This project investigates applications of tempe mould (primarily Rhizopus spp.) in the kitchen.The results will be spread over two blog posts. The first is devoted to introducing and contextualising tempe as a food product: its origin, its raw materials, and the key points of its fermentation process. We provide the protocols used here at NFL for bean and wheat tempe production. Moreover, we describe the use of some Nordic legume varieties for tempe production. The second part will cover how we further developed our preliminary tempe into a completely different and exciting product by harnessing the moulds’ metabolic enzymes to produce different sensory qualities. Introduction Tempe is a fermented food from Indonesia, originally based on soy beans. It is produced through a solid state fungal fermentation process leading to a mycelia-knitted compact cake of beans. The key microorganism leading the process is a … Read more

We must let them taste

Welcome to season 2 of NFLR. This season, we say thank you and farewell to our founding producer Meradith, and welcome a new producer, Anna Sigrithur, to the mic. -ed. by Anna Sigrithur Meet Laila Spik Skaltje: the Sami reindeer herder and traditional foods teacher that I lived and worked with this summer in Swedish Lapland. Laila is a steward of her family’s ecological wisdom—but she is not afraid of working with modern agents like timber companies and ambitious restaurants, carrying on her father’s work of educating the world about the value of Sami knowledge. In this episode—and throughout this season of NFLR, which will follow my summer with Laila—we explore the complexities of living a modern life ‘close to nature’, and how Laila uses taste as a way to bring people into her world.


  by Josh Evans. It has been one year to the day since we moved house. From the beginning of 2009, the lab was in a houseboat, a grey one with a black curved roof and a handsome wooden deck, moored just outside Restaurant Noma at Wilders Plads on the main Copenhagen harbour. We were there for almost six years. Last November, we packed up our pantry and all our equipment and moved a ten-minute bike-ride across town to the Department of Food Science at the University of Copenhagen. Along with research, field work, talks and presentations and cooking around the world, our last year has been full of the adventure of building up our new space and figuring out how to make it all work in a very new environment. by Magnus Møller, for Børsen the rest by Chris Tonnesen There has been an interesting reversal: on the boat, we … Read more


by Roberto Flore In May 2014, I was invited to share some recipes with roe deer on ‘Frihuset’, a Danish television program on TV2, filmed at the estate at Ryegaard in Kirke Hyllinge. The segment highlighted the different parts of the animal. I made fried testicles, heart tartare with apples and rhubarb reduction, and tenderloin rubbed with birch syrup and birch bud salt, wrapped in birch bark and grilled. It was also the first event I made with my hunter friend David—since then we have hunted together and had some great conversations about the role of hunting in sustainable landscape management, some of which you can listen to on NFLR. Here are some photos from this tasty, early-summer day. Roberto with Lene, one of the hosts of Frihuset seasoning the testicles

The Smell Game

by Meradith Hoddinott We follow Ghislaine Calleja, a Masters student at the University of Copenhagen, who is working with us to develop a children’s game that encourages kids to have fun with their food and try new things. This project is part of a partnership between Nordic Food Lab and Smag for Livet—a center funded by the Nordea Foundation that promotes education through taste. This is the last episode of NFLR season 1, produced by Meradith. We’ll be starting up season 2 soon, with a new producer—but in the meantime, huge thanks to Meradith, and enjoy her final episode. —ed.