Relearning seasonality with Satokausikalenteri
Seasonality is in the core of the Nordic drink philosophy. But where to find information about the seasonal produce? We contacted Samuli Karjula, who is the founder of Satokausikalenteri. It is originally a wall calendar and now a whole media that offers information about the seasonality of vegetables, fruits, berries, fish and wild veggies.
Satokausikalenteri actually started when Samuli found out that favouring seasonal vegetables was more difficult than he had thought: the products sold in the grocery stores weren’t available by the natural growing season of the veggies and the selection was so vast it was impossible to memorize them all. So Samuli started to collect information about the natural seasons for his own use. What started as an excel sheet has grown into a popular online media and a wall calendar published annually, full of information of the nutritional values, origins and ways to storage and use seasonal vegetables and fruits.
The first Satokausikalenteri was published in 2013. How has the appreciation and availability of seasonal vegetables changed since?
Back then the only vegetable seasons that were noticed in Finland were the seasons of asparagus, new potatoes and strawberries. All the other veggies were sold all year around. We have come far from those days. Now people wait for the season of citrus fruits to begin in the winter and for the first greens of the spring to arrive into grocery stores.
Vegetables have gained an identity of their own. The variation throughout the year is also better now. Earlier big super markets stocked 90 veggies all year, but now they might have 40 available in winter and 150 in summer. Also the differences between varieties are appreciated more. In 2013 we only had one type of pear and one type of tomato sold in the stores but now there are different varieties available, for example more than 10 different tomatoes in summer 2018.
Vegetables have gained an identity of their own.
How do you see the role of restaurants and cocktail bars when it comes to promoting seasonal thinking in food and drinks?
I think there is a lot of potential. If we think about for example Negroni, bartenders could use different varieties of orange and citrus according to the season for the garnish. Knowledge about different varieties could be transported to customers during drinking or dining experience in restaurants and bars. In a restaurant the information chain might break because the chef does not usually speak directly with the customers, but bartenders make the drinks and also communicate with guests.
The vegetable of the year 2019 in Finland are beets. How would you like to see them used in restaurants and bars?
We have managed to get golden beet and chioggia beet to the grocery stores and the next step would be to highlight other beets. High quality restaurants already serve white beet and sugar beet but it would be great to turn them into trendy veggies.
Somebody has to show the direction and others will follow.
What does the future for seasonal thinking look like?
I think that the biggest changes are still on their way. The climate change for example is serving the Nordics well for now when it comes to vegetables. We get new products like domestic watermelon. As the production of vegetables gets cheaper, the prices go down. Raspberries for example cost 80€ per kilo in 2014 and each year the price has halved.
The big players in restaurant industry change their customs slowly, but cocktail bars could work in a more maneuverable way. Somebody has to show the direction and others will follow. I hope that we could see similar mentality to seasonality in drinks business as in high end Nordic restaurants.
Why not make drinks that represent our surroundings and identity?
From the perspective of tourism, I would like to see more locality and seasonality in drinks. It is a fact that we can not compete with the drink culture of South America for example, so why not make drinks that represent our surroundings and identity?
How about the future of Satokausikalenteri?
I hope that in 2030 we are not needed anymore. There is still a lot of work to do though. For now Satokausikalenteri is available only in Finland but I could see a Nordic version of the calendar coming out some day. Here in the Nordics, we used to live very strictly according to the seasons but then welfare state blew it up and made it possible to have everything available all year around. Now we are relearning these things again and Satokausikalenteri is there to help in the process.