One of the joys of spring is traditional Norwegian Karvekaalsuppe (caraway green soup), last night’s dinner. This was one of the first wild plants I domesticated in my garden for the soup, leaving some for seed later (used on bread, in curry spice mixes, ferments etc.). I simply collected a large bowl full of leaves with the top of the roots attached. I then made a butter and wholegrain Svedjerug (old Norwegian rye flour) roux with garlic, water and caraway greens, adding a hard boiled egg to the soup…
Learn much more about this great multipurpose vegetable in my book Around the World in 80 plants!
Last night’s dinner was a 100% wholegrain sourdough pizza with Hablitzia, four cheese and poppy seed topping…
The dough was made from a selection of whole grain organic flours including: coarse rye, emmer, barley, coarse spelt, svedjerug and a few barley and svedjerug grains added.
It was accompanied by a blanched salad – sea kale, dandelion “Vert de Montmagny Ameliore” and Allium tuberosum!
The Hablitzia once again impresses with its incredible productivity and early growth in one of the driest, shadiest places in the garden!
Follow the link above for a good video in English where Johan Swärd, winner of the Norwegian Plant Heritage prize, tells the story of Svedjerug (literally Slash and Burn Rye), an old variety which was rescued when a few seeds were found between the floorboards on an old farm in Finnskogen, Norway before being grown out at the Hamar Domkirkeodden Urtehagen (Herb garden at the Hamar Cathedral ruins; see a picture of one of the plants growing there in 1988: https://no.wikisource.org/wiki/Svedjebruk#/media/File:Ryesod.JPG). Johan got his seeds from there and has done great work in popularising it (I can now even buy flour and grain in one of the better supermarkets in Trondheim):
It’s a very tall rye (over 2m) traditionally sown in summer and harvested the year after as part of the slash and burn agriculture (spruce forest) introduced by the Forest Finns (Skogfinner) to parts of Norway and Sweden. Johan tells how as many as 100 straws can in optimal conditions be produced from a single seed and up to 100 grains in each ear, an amazing total of 10,000 grains from a single plant! He also explains why it is important not only to store old varieties like Svedjerug in gene banks like Svalbard, but also to continue to grow them and select them for changing conditions.
Seed of Svedjerug has been offered in our Norwegian Seed Savers Yearbook (norwegianseedsavers.no), coming out in February, another good reason to support our work!
Below are two pictures taken during a workshop Johan gave at the Permaculture Festival in Hurdal in 2013!
I like to cook on the wood burning stove in winter…here’s a scene from the preparation of last night’s home grown veggie curry with Basella, Swiss chard, the two leeks I managed to dig up from the frozen ground, onion, garlic, dried chantarelles and winter chantarelles, apple, chili, coriander, golpar (Heracleum persicum spice) served with onion bhaji and rye (svedjerug) “rice”…it doesn’t get much better