At the Medieval Fair in Turku earlier in the month (see our blog post), we recently tried two unusual (but apparently tradition) Finnish breads: petturieska and nokkonenleipä. Petturieska was a “katovuosien hätäravintona” (= a famine food, important for example during World War II), made from a combination of pine bark (specifically the tree’s phloem) and wheat flour. While there’s no need to eat “pine bark bread” these days, it is still baked by a few and enjoyed by many. I though it tasted pretty good (although with a mild flavour, not very different from some light rye breads) and enjoyed the thin crisp pieces that are baked. For more information about petturieska you can check out this website (with some extra information about kalakukko) or this video (from YLE) or find a receipe (here).
Nokkonen (stinging nettle; Urtica dioica) is a traditional ingredient used in a lot of ways in Finland (and indeed more widely across its distribution). When boiled (or baked, I guess) the chemicals that irritate us so badly break down, and the nettles become completely edible. Apparently (according to the lady who sold us the breads), stinging nettle is traditionally regarded as a “love herb”. I’m not sure what she meant by that (please leave a comment below if you know), but I didn’t love the bread. The texture was enjoyable, but the taste was a bit like moldy aniseed… I’m not writing nokkonenleipä off completely, but won’t be rushing to find it again either.