Finnish food: Tar ice cream

One of the more exotic flavours of ice cream that you can find in Finnish shops and at ice cream stalls is “terva” (= tar). Yup, that’s right, the ice cream contains tar extracted from pine trees (the same stuff that is used to water-proof wooden boats – although I guess these days they’re using a flavourant?). Some like it (you can read what they have to say here and here), some hate it (here and here), and some grow to love it (here).

I’m not going to buy it again in a hurry – the initial taste is a lot like mild caramel or toffee (quite nice), but the after-taste is quite chemical (almost soap-like). It is definitely worth a try, and I would guess that other brands may taste different (we bought cheap Pirkka ice cream).

Tar ice cream!

Tar also has some other culinary uses here – for example, tar-marinaded fish, tervasnapsi (“tar schnapps”) and chewing gum. And it makes sense that the Finns have incorporated this product into their food, since they were (and still are, I think) one of the leading producers of this product. The city of Oulu in north-western Finland was a major centre for tar export, and today still celebrates its link with this commodity with an annual tar festival and with a newly formed “tar-route“.

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  • Di le Roux

    Doesn’t sound very appealing – maybe you need to grow up with it.

  • Carina

    I’m just not sure if it’s safe for human consumption. Maybe they process it in a way that it’s safe.

    It looks yummy…

  • http://justmesofar.blogspot.com/ tracie

    I swear no more than 15 minutes before I read this my husband and I were having a totally random conversation about tar shampoo and he was explaining about the terva on the boats.
    Your post it was just so timely.
    He didn’t know about the tar ice cream! He knew about the candy, though.
    We got a kick out of your discovery and wondered how we’ve been missing that flavor at the grocery.
    The licorice ice cream seems like an odd ice cream flavor to me, but the pine tar… well that takes it all to a new level. I think it’s something I wouldn’t buy but would try just to say I tasted it.

    Hope you’ve had a great Summer! It feels like it’s fading fast now.
    Tracie

  • Michelle Gibson

    I think I might try garlic-flavored ice cream before I try the tar . . . but I would definitely try both!

  • http://www.thedigitalvineyard.com Brigitte

    It is disgusting! It has a pleasant enough initial taste but then suddenly the after-taste hits. Its like you have been sucking a “pine-fresh” car deodorizer or licked the stuff you clean the bath tub / toilet out with..

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