If you go to Bornholm in search of culinary delights, you've come to the right place. The obvious thing to do is to find what you like best - and there's plenty to choose from: for example freshly smoked herring eaten in a smokehouse, local beer, a piece of delicious homemade chocolate or delicious ice cream. Bornholm's gastronomy is something special.
Local food producers produce their products with great commitment and care, but new entrepreneurs are coming to the island to produce their own food. The local business community and the Bornholm Business Centre also help where they can, offering both advice and useful tips.
Bornholm has been famous for its food since the Middle Ages. It was here that the Bornholm herring adventure began. 100 years ago, millions of herring came to spawn along the Bornholm coast every autumn. Fishing took place from August to the beginning of October, because that was the law at the time. Over time, merchants, fishermen, and laborers from all over the world began to come to Bornholm to get their share of this wealth. Even local farmers left their farms to take advantage of the seasonal herring fishing and to stock up on supplies for the winter.
Stalls and work sheds were set up en masse and the herring caught was salted, sold, and loaded aboard merchant ships. The fishermen would leave in the evening in small boats, the landing and preparation would take place in the morning, followed by the sale and dispatch of the herring transport in the afternoon. They were sent to various places in the rest of Europe, where they were resold at a good profit. It was a very hectic time of year - but also quite profitable, as salted herring was a highly sought after commodity in the south, where it was forbidden to eat meat during Lent. After the Reformation in 1536, the fast was abolished and herring exports almost stopped. However, the herring fishery continued - as it was an important source of food.
About 100 years ago ordinary people ate herring twice a day, eating it straight from the barrel, often with the head, skin, and bones. Bornholm's regional dish of fried herring probably dates from this period. In truth, it's a dish that when served to people who haven't tried it before, they can be quite surprised by its taste. It is a salted herring fillet that has been softened a little, coated in rye flour, and fried in butter. It is served with marinated beetroot, rye bread, lots of soft onions and mustard, and the obligatory beer or schnapps. There are still traces of this period today, just walk from Hullehavn in Svaneke towards Årsdale, where you can still see the remains of small harbours and fishermen's sheds.
The earliest records of smoked herring being exported by fishermen on Bornholm date from the 17th century, but in the 1870s and 1880s, more systematic production began. Only a few original smokehouses and the old-fashioned way of preparing herring have been preserved on the island to this day.
In the past, herring was caught locally, but after tourists became the biggest buyers of herring, people started to buy herring from other parts of the country. as herring from other Danish waters is generally larger than on Bornholm, consumers think they are buying more for less money, and that a small Bornholm herring is a bigger delicacy.
A must when visiting Bornholm is to taste the island's fish speciality "Sol over Gudhjem". This Bornholmian regional dish is a sandwich with smoked herring, egg yolk, radishes and chives.
Sun over Gudhjem is smoked herring on rye bread.
If you haven't tried it yet, or simply long for a taste of it, visit one of the many smokehouses on Bornholm or see the recipe below:
Ingredients for 2 people:
2 smoked herrings
2 slices of thick rye bread
a little butter
2 raw egg yolks
2 tablespoons chopped chives
8 rings of red onion
Salt and pepper
How to prepare the dish:
Clean the smoked herrings from the skin and bones. Carefully remove the meat from the skin and place the fillets on the rye bread. Clean the radishes and cut them into thin slices. Rinse and chop the chives. Peel the red onion and cut it into rings. Sprinkle the herring with radishes, chives, red onion, and salt, and pepper. Separate the egg white from the yolk, and carefully place the yolk on each piece of open sandwich.
On Bornholm you can also take part in the chef competition "Sun over Gudhjem", which takes place at the end of June in the harbor of Gudhjem on Bornholm, and is a duel between world-class chefs competing against each other for the tastiest dish using Bornholm's products.
The "new" food adventure on Bornholm began in the early nineties, and in the gardens and on the trees you will find some of the most exotic fruit in Denmark, including figs and mulberries, which benefit from the warmth of the rocks. Bornholm's farmers provide produce for a sublime culinary experience, which chefs from near and far use in their dishes.
Companies on Bornholm produce award-winning cheese, meat products, chocolate, ice cream, rapeseed oil, flour, bread, cakes, and much, much more.
On Bornholm, you can enjoy meat from organically reared Dexter and Scottish Highland cattle, grazed in nature reserves in Ekkodalen, Klintebakken, NaturBornholm, Hammerknuden, and others, in order to preserve the natural landscape of the island. In winter the cattle are fed mainly on hay and silage, as well as grass and herbs from the clean areas, resulting in high quality, tasty meat.
Bornholm's largest sheep flock of around 600 lives in a nature reserve on the edge of the medieval fortress Hammershus. The sheep and lambs also care for Bornholm's nature, as they graze in areas that would otherwise have to be maintained by hand or machine. When the lambs are not grazing, they are fed a mixture of nutrient-rich grasses, which helps to ensure high meat quality and taste.
The Bornholm Dairy is one of the food companies on the island that has helped to draw attention to the high-quality food from Bornholm, thanks to the many awards for Danablu cheese. The milk for the famous cheese comes from Bornholm's cows, which graze on organic meadows all summer long. The salty sea air also contributes to the taste of the milk used to make this high-quality cheese.
Bornholm dairy Andels is an independent dairy owned by the dairy farmers of Bornholm. The dairy was founded in 1950 and has been the only dairy on the island since 1970. 44 dairy farmers produce milk on a daily basis, which is used to make pasteurized milk, butter, sour products, and cheese, which is sold both locally and abroad.
As the only cheese producer, Klemensker Dairy has managed to win the title of "World Cheese Champion" in Wisconsin three times in 1980, 1988, and 2014. No other cheese producer in the world has won this award three times. Another award won by the dairy was at the National Dairy Show in 2011, where it received an honorary award and a gold medal for its 60+ Danablu cheese.
A fairly new dairy that has emerged is the small Lykkelund Gedemejeri near Østerlars. Lene Schrøder and Lene Mortensen have 48 goats that produce about 25,000 liters of milk per year.
They produce a variety of goat cheeses, which can be bought in the farm shop.
Ultimately, there is almost no limit to what is locally produced on this small island. You will find numerous breweries, quality bakeries, and ice cream parlors, there are also quite a few very good restaurants and many other places where you can taste local products.
2016 was the year that the Bornholm restaurant Kadeau received its first Michelin star. The Copenhagen branch of the restaurant received its first star back in 2013 and five years later, in 2018, it received its second star and retains them both to this day. In 2020, the newly opened restaurant Det Røde Pakhus in Rønne received a Michelin Plate Award - it may not be a Michelin star, but the award nevertheless allows it to appear in the guide to recommendable restaurants.
Hard candy - On the market square in Svaneke, in a traditional merchant's house that is over 200 years old, there is the most famous candy factory - Svaneke Bolcher.
ChocolateSnogebaek, Svaneke, Gudhjem, and Ronne are home to producers of chocolate delicacies perfect for the sweet tooth, and in these towns, we can stop to sample handmade chocolates, filled pralines and chocolate-covered marshmallows.
Caramels - in the centre of Gudhjem, Denmark's first caramel factory is located in the Jantzens Hotel building, which has been standing since 1879.
Wine - near Pedersker there is a vineyard producing grape wine, fruit wine, and since 2005 also whisky, and with 2.9 hectares of vines it is one of Denmark's largest vineyards.
Beer - when you visit the most famous brewery on Bornholm in Svaneke, you will see how water, hops, and malt is transformed into tasty beer in a 1000 liter vat. In 2000, after a 45-year hiatus, the Svaneke brewery restarted production. Today, the brewery produces many types of beer.
Akvavitin Nexø, close to the harbor, is the Bornholm Spritfabrik, where the excellent Bornholm vodka akvavit has been produced since 1994. It comes in several varieties - bitter, herbal, and the traditional Bornholm honey vodka "Hennings", or vodka with liquid honey.
Ice cream - Svaneke offers a wide variety of ice cream flavours, including fruit ice cream with liquorice root, beer and Bornholm's famous Danablu cheese. The ice cream is made exclusively from organic products, without artificial flavorings.
In Gudhjem and Allinge, we also have the opportunity to try ice cream, which is made only from local ingredients and of course is organic and chemical-free.
Pastais made from durum wheat, which is rich in protein. The pasta is of such high quality that when the owner gave it to the Turin people for tasting at the Slow food fair, they were very impressed with its taste and quality.
Mustard -Bornholmersennep, among other things, is made from water, mustard, salt, sugar and a range of very special spices - the rest remains a secret.
To keep up with demand, the old tradition of touching up the mustard by hand was abandoned. Today this working process takes place in a large steel tank, but outside the mixer, everything follows the old recipes. All ingredients are measured by hand and only a few trusted employees know what ingredients are used to make the mustard.
Restaurants with the "Regional madkultur Bornholm" sign are certainly places that serve local Bornholmian dishes. You can also taste old Bornholmian food at Erichsens Gård, a museum in the Erichsen family house and garden at Laksegade 7 in Rønne, where you can see daily demonstrations and taste old Bornholmian dishes, as well as bread and preserves made on site using the old methods.
Fortunately, it is not only the people of Bornholm who have discovered the high quality of Bornholm's products - but the delicacies from the island are also exported. But don't worry, there's enough of these delicacies for everyone who visits Bornholm. Bornholm's modest size means that you can enjoy all these delicacies during your visit to the island. At the same time, the island's size makes it easy to find places and people where local raw materials are grown, processed, and sold.
Most people have such a great sense of the good quality offered by the local food producers on Bornholm that they do their best to have as much local produce as possible. If you want to know about some of the local products, you can find them in most supermarkets on the island, which has a wide selection of them. But it is nicer to know where we can visit the producers and find our favorite products and flavors on Bornholm.