Picking wild mushrooms is an integral part of Finnish culinary culture. After a day of mushroom picking in the forest, the mushrooms are usually dried to make them last for the whole year. When founding Kaavi Porcini, Martti Nyberg thought of this Finnish habit and wanted to make mushrooms available for everyone, all year around.
A selection of wild mushrooms from Kaavi Porcini is now available at our Café Maa. We had a chance to discuss with the founder Martti Nyberg about the history of Kaavi Porcini and the different varieties of mushrooms they sell, as well as about the best way to cook them.
What is the story behind Kaavi Porcini?
Nobody was drying Finnish chanterelles, funnel chanterelles and black trumpets, so we thought to bring the Finnish wild mushrooms to every restaurant and every home all year round. We figured that it was easiest to dry them, so they would only need to be rehydrated to get the fresh flavour of the mushroom. We were pretty much just trying to bring nature to everyone’s kitchen throughout the year, and not just during the season when mushrooms are fresh.
In the same manner as the Finns who pick their mushrooms and dry them themselves?
Yes. On a small scale, everybody has been doing it for hundreds of years. We thought it was clever to not have to transport water. Mushrooms are composed of 90% water, so taking out the water is easier to logistically transport them around. And then of course when you dry them, their flavour intensifies. So, you don’t need much when you cook.
Are mushrooms important in Finnish gastronomy?
Yes they are important, and used a lot in everybody’s home and in restaurants. People in Finland know mushrooms pretty well. They know they can go out to the forest and pick mushrooms and know which ones are good or not.
Where in Finland do your mushrooms come from?
We don’t grow them, they are wild mushrooms. Our factory is in the region of North Karelia, surrounded by wolves, bears and mushrooms in the wilderness… There are hundreds of square kilometres of empty forest.
What type of recipe would you recommend to our French customers who buy Kaavi Porcini mushrooms at Café Maa?
For example, you can rehydrate the mushroom in water, warm it up in a pan with some olive oil, salt and pepper. Of course, you can also mix them with cream, and cook them with pasta or risotto.
And to end this interview, what is your favourite mushroom?
Porcini. Obviously, I like chanterelles and girolles as well, I love them all. But if I think about plain mushrooms, boiled and seasoned with olive oil, black pepper and salt, then my favourite one is the porcini.