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 this episode Laila tells us her mother’s bread story, and we take a forest walk to learn about the harvesting of pine bark for flours. 

To learn more about the uses of pine and birch bark flours in Scandinavia, as well as some recipes we have been developing at the lab, make sure to read our blog post on tree bark.