If we are going to Bornholm in search of culinary delights, we've come to the right place. The obvious thing to do is find what we like best - and there is plenty to choose from: e.g. freshly smoked herring eaten in a smokehouse, local beer, a piece of delicious homemade chocolate or delicious ice cream. The gastronomy of Bornholm is something special.
Local food producers produce their products with great commitment and care, but new entrepreneurs are coming to the island to make their own food products. The local business community and Business Center Bornholm also helps wherever they can, providing both advice and useful tips.
Bornholm has been famous for food since the Middle Ages. This is where the Bornholm herring adventure began: 100 years ago, millions of herring were coming to spawn along the coasts of Bornholm each autumn. The fishing took place from August to the beginning of October, as that was the law then. Over time, merchants, fishermen, and laborers from all over the world began coming to the island to earn some of this wealth for themselves. Even local farmers were leaving their farms to take advantage of the seasonal herring catch and stockpile for the winter.
Stands and work sheds were massively set up, and the caught herrings were salted, sold and loaded onto merchant ships. Fish were shipped 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, since salted herring was a highly sought-after commodity in the south, where meat was forbidden during Lent. After the Reformation in 1536, fasting was abolished and herring exports almost stopped. However, the catch of herring continued as it was an important source of food.
About 100 years ago, common people consumed herring twice a day, eating it straight from the barrel, often with the head, skin, and bones. Probably from this period comes the regional dish of Bornholm: fried herring. In fact, it is a dish that, when served to people who have not tried it before, may be quite surprised by its taste. It is a salted herring fillet that has been slightly softened, dipped in rye flour and fried in butter. It is served with marinated beets, rye bread, lots of soft onions and mustard, and necessarily beer or schnapps.
Traces of this period have been preserved to this day, just walk from Hullehavn in Svaneke towards Årsdale, where you can still see the remains of small harbors and fishermen's sheds.
The earliest information about the export of smoked herring by Bornholm fishermen dates back to the 17th century, but in the 1870s and 1880s larger, systematic production began. To this day, only a few original smokehouses and the old-fashioned way of preparing them have survived on the island.
On Bornholm, you can take part in the Chef's competition "The Sun on Gudhjem", which takes place at the end of June in Gudhjem Harbor, Bornholm, and is a duel of world-class chefs competing for the tastiest dish made from Bornholm's produce.
At the beginning of the nineties, a "new" adventure with food on Bornholm began, in gardens and trees we find the most exotic fruits in Denmark, including figs and mulberries, which benefit from the warmth of the rocks. Bornholm farmers provide products for a sublime culinary experience that chefs from near and far use in their dishes.
Bornholm's companies produce award-winning cheeses, meat products, chocolate, ice cream, rapeseed oil, flour, breads, biscuits and much, much more.
On Bornholm, you can taste meat from organic Dexter and Scottish Highland cattle, grazed in nature reserves in Ekkodalen, Klintebakken, NaturBornholm, Hammerknuden and others to preserve the natural landscape of the island. In winter, the cattle are mainly fed with hay and silage as well as grass and herbs from clean lands, resulting in high-quality, tasty meat.
Sheep and lambs from Bornholm
Bornholm's largest herd of sheep, about 600 head, lives in a nature reserve on the edge of the medieval Hammershus fortress. Sheep and lambs also care for Bornholm's wildlife as they graze in areas that would otherwise have to be kept by hand or machine. When the lambs are not grazed, they are fed a nutrient-rich mixture of grasses, which helps to ensure the meat's high quality and flavor.
The Bornholm Dairy is one of the island's food companies that has helped highlight Bornholm's high-quality food with numerous Danablu cheese awards. The milk for the famous cheese comes from cows from Bornholm that graze in organic meadows all summer. The salty sea air also influences the taste of the milk from which this high-quality cheese is made.
Bornholm's Andels Dairy is an independent dairy owned by dairy producers in Bornholm. The dairy was established in 1950 and has been the only dairy on the island since 1970. 44 dairy suppliers produce milk every day from which to make pasteurized milk, butter, sour products and cheese which is sold both locally and internationally.
As the only cheese producer, the Klemensker dairy managed to win the Wisconsin 'World Cheese Champion' 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 the 2011 National Dairy Exhibition, where it received an honorary award and a gold medal for Danablu 60+ cheese.
A fairly new dairy that has emerged is the little Lykkelund Gedemejeri near Østerlars. Lene Schrøder and Lene Mortensen have 48 goats that produce around 25,000 liters of milk per year. They produce a variety of goat cheeses that can be purchased at the farm store.
We can find here numerous breweries, high-quality bakeries, ice cream shops and there are also a lot of high standard restaurants as well as many other places where you can taste local products.
2016 was the year in which the Bornholm restaurant Kadeau received its first Michelin star. The restaurant branch in Copenhagen received its first star already in 2013, and five years later, in 2018, it received a second star and keeps both to this day. In 2020, the newly opened Det Røde Pakhus restaurant in Rønne was awarded the Michelin Plate Award - it may not be a Michelin star, but it nevertheless makes it a place in the guide to recommendable restaurants.
Hard candy - On the market square in Svaneke, in a traditional merchant house that is over 200 years old, there is the most famous hard candy factory - Svaneke Bolcher.
Chocolate in Snogebaek, Svaneke, Gudhjem or in Ronne there are producers of chocolate delicacies perfect for gourmets of sweets, in these places we can stop to try hand-made chocolates, stuffed pralines and cream marshmallows covered with chocolate.
Sweets - in the center of Gudhjem, the first caramel factory in Denmark is located in the building of the Jantzens Hotel, which has been standing since 1879.
Wine - in the area of Pedersker there is a vineyard that produces grape wine, fruit wine and, since 2005, also whiskey, and with 2.9 ha of vines, it is one of Denmark's largest vineyards.
Beer - visiting the most famous brewery in Bornholm in Svaneke, we will see how in a 1000-liter tub, water, hops and malt turn into tasty beer. In 2000, after a 45-year hiatus, the brewery in Svaneke resumed its production. Today, the brewery produces many types of beer.
Akvavit - Bornholmske Spritfabrik is located in Nexø, near the port. where the exquisite Bornholmska akvavit vodka has been produced since 1994. It is made in several varieties - bitter, herbal and traditional Bornholm honey "honningsyp" or vodka with liquid honey.
Ice cream - in Svaneke you will find delicious ice cream with various flavors, including fruit with licorice root, beer and the famous Danablu cheese from Bornholm. They are made only from ecological products, without artificial flavors.
Also in Gudhjem or Allinge we have the opportunity to try local ice cream, which is made only from local raw materials, of course, they are organic products and without any chemicals.
Pasta - made from durum wheat, rich in protein. It is so high-quality pasta that when the owner gave it to the Turinians for tasting at the "Slow food" fair, they were very delighted with its taste and quality.
Mustard - Bornholmersennep incl. it is made from water, mustard, salt, sugar and a number of very special spices - the rest remains a mystery.
To keep up with demand, the old tradition of hand-touching mustard has been abandoned. Today, this work process takes place in a large steel tank, but apart from the mixer, everything is done according to the old regulations. All ingredients are measured by hand and only a few trusted employees know what ingredients are used to make mustard.
Restaurants bearing the banner "Regional madkultur Bornholm" are certainly establishments that serve local Bornholm dishes. You can also taste the old Bornholm dishes at Erichsens Gård - a museum in the Erichsen family's house and garden in Rønne on Laksegade 7, where daily shows and tastings of old Bornholm dishes, as well as pastries and preserves made on the spot using old methods, are held.
Fortunately, not only the people of Bornholm have discovered the high quality of Bornholm's products - delicacies from the island are also an export product. But don't worry, these delicacies will suffice for everyone visiting Bornholm. Bornholm's modest size allows you to enjoy all these delicacies when visiting the island. At the same time, the size of the island makes it easier to find places and people where local raw materials are grown, processed and sold.
Most people feel so much of the good quality that local food producers on Bornholm offer that they do everything they can to have as much local produce as possible. If you want to know some of the local products, you can find them in most of the supermarkets on the island, which have a wide selection. However, it's more fun to know where we can visit the producers and find our favorite products and flavors on Bornholm.