Midsummer Stories: What Is The Swedes’ #1 Worry?

Hjälmshult in Skåne, Southern Sweden. Here lives and works one of Sweden’s most prestigious award winners.

His name is Lars Jacobsen and he is actually a farmer. He grows strawberries under his amazing glass greenhouse. And he had been winning the annual strawberry contest (or auction) award for almost a decade in a row.

Wait, what is the award about? Well, you know, strawberries are one of Sweden’s treasures. Metaphorically but also literally, as the Swedes love them and pay a lot to get the best.

Every year, there is a kind of competition in which farmers who grow strawberries from across Sweden can participate. And there are many factors to decide the result. Who will bring in the new strawberry crop of the year first? And who will be able to sell it first?

If you plan to visit Sweden around Midsummer, be prepared: there is a strawberry craze. In fact, surveys show that there are two things that Swedes worry most about, before Midsummer.

OK, the weather can be a major turn-off because it usually ruins people’s expectations for an amazing outdoor celebration. But their biggest worry is strawberries.

Why is that? Why do they mean so much to the Swedes? Read on!

Yo, little earth old men!

Jordgubbar is the word for strawberries in Swedish. And it is very hilarious as it can roughly be translated as little earth old men. Well, etymology aside, you can imagine how the strawberries are and how they grow. So, this may explain why the Swedes chose to call them like that. No offence!

Strawberries are an integral part of the Midsummer celebrations. They eat them raw, with milk and sugar or even with ice-cream. But they also put them on their summer cakes. Any chance of not having enough strawberries on the table can seriously ruin the celebration. Not to mention that a shortage of strawberries in the market is often called “a disaster for the Swedes”.

You know, strawberries are very sensitive to the climate and environment. A hot spring can bring too many strawberries early on so there may be a shortage around Midsummer. That was last year. Too much too early is bad. As well as not many and late. There has to be lagom with their beloved red passion, too. How Swedish!

2019 is a good year though and the Swedes can rest assured they will be able to indulge as much as they want.

But what is the first thing the Swedes ask when they are to buy strawberries? The story continues below.

Made in Sweden

IKEA comes from Sweden. Volvo cars too. But what about the strawberries? There is no way that the Swedes will accept to buy strawberries that come from another country.

Are they chauvinists? No, not at all. It is just that they grow up in a strawberry culture. Often, families visit the fields and let the kids pick the strawberries themselves. Or they just go to the forest to pick wild strawberries.

And the first question they ask when they are at the market or the supermarket is “Where do they come from?”. Mainly because strawberries are sensitive and don’t stay fresh for long. So, chances are that Swedish strawberries come from a nearby producer, so, yes, they are fresh and tasty.

But make no mistake. The Swedes can tell what Swedish strawberries taste like. They feel they are better than imported ones and maybe they are right. According to scientists, strawberries get more flavour and aroma when they grow in places with long days and nights with low temperatures. Which is exactly how the climate in Sweden is, during spring and summer.

So, blame it on the weather! Fancy a frozen strawberry margarita now?

Image:  Lena Granefelt/imagebank.sweden.se