Bowl of crayfish

Swedish Crayfish Party

Another first to cross off the life in Sweden list… a crayfish party! Or kräftskiva as it’s known in Swedish. Our lovely neighbours and their friends showed us how to celebrate and most importantly, how to navigate our way inside the shells. All socially distanced of course.

Daisies in the sun

Aperol Spritz
Aperol Spritz (berry picking refreshment)

Sweden has over-fishing restrictions in place to help protect crayfish populations. The season begins in August and only lasts a few weeks so there really isn’t much time to get cracking. They are cooked in brine with dill, stacked in a bowl and decorated with even more bright yellow dill crowns.

Crayfish parties are traditionally held outside to make most of the last Summer days… it really won’t be long before Sweden’s famously long, dark Winter has arrived.

Crayfish lantern
Ljusslinga kräfta
Paper moon lantern
Full moon lantern

We hung traditional smiling full moons and other paper lanterns over the table, along with LED crayfish lights. The paper lanterns have space for a candle inside but we all used the LED ones for light. Love these green ones!

Green paper lantern
Paper lantern
Bowl of Chanterelle mushrooms
Swedish Chanterelle
Bowl of crayfish
Crayfish with dill crown / kräfta med dill krona

Ta dah! Crayfish with dill crowns. I didn’t know this but crayfish are black and turn red when cooked. We ate them cold with bread and a really delicious Chanterelle and Västerbotten pie. Västerbotten is like a cross between between cheddar and parmesan.

Crayfish claws
Kiss kiss / puss puss
Bread basket
Haselnut bread / hasselnötsbröd
Mushroom pie
Chanterelle and Västerbotten cheese
Beer and schnapps
Beer and schnapps / öl och schnapps

Beer was drunk during the meal and we swigged cold schnapps after each song (at any point during the meal). Neither of us knew any of the words so boggly eyed swaying was the only thing we were able to contribute at that point.

Crayfish belly

And how did we actually eat the crayfish? Well, that proved to be a bit tricky for a pair of noobs like us…

First you suck the juices and dill brine out of the tummy. I’m not sure if I did everything else in the correct order but I snapped the legs off down to the big claws, cracked those with my teeth and used a tiny crayfish knife to dig the meat out. The tail was easy to snap off and the intenstine bit slipped out pretty easily. I struggled with the head and body though and most of my attempts resulted in handfuls of mashed crayfish mixed with shards of shell. Underestimating the amout of juice hidden in the shells was my final rookie mistake and one that resulted in me needing four napkins… to eat five crayfish.

Each empty crayfish head is lined up along the plate edge as a trophy — definitely not the type of trophy you can string on a necklace! I managed to eat 5 and Scott ate 6! My second helping of pie took up the space I would have had for an extra crayfish.

Crayfish on plate
Crayfish trophies in the background
Lit crayfish lanterns
Ljusslinga kräfta

It stayed light until almost midnight when we celebrated Midsummer a few weeks ago. Fast forward to the end of the August and it’s dark at 9:30pm. It really did feel like we were celebrating the last of the Summer.

Bowl of blueberries

Pudding was a big bowl of wild blueberries we picked from the forest earlier that day, with fresh cream and sugar. We picked enough for dinner and still had plenty to take home — most of them have been frozen to eat during the Winter. It reminded me of picking and freezing lots of blackberries from the village we used to live in. Same tradition, different fruit.

So that was our first kräftskiva! Lots of fun but I need to practice looking seafood square in the eyes for next year.

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