South Estonia's traditional culinary delights

Source: Toomas Tuul, Visit Estonia

South Estonia's traditional culinary delights

Those looking to experience the best of traditional Estonia should head to South Estonia. The region surrounding Võru is perhaps most well known for its UNESCO-featured smoke sauna tradition and for its own distinctive dialect, locally grown culinary delights are not to be missed during your next trip to South Estonia.

Southern Estonia is good at keeping old traditions alive and well, but traditional definitely doesn't mean stagnant. Estonian food culture, in general, is about mixing traditional ingredients with innovative techniques. The wisdom of making food is passed on from generation to generation, and children are included early in the process. Southern Estonian dishes, similar to Estonian cuisine in general, are simple and seasonal. Summer is not only the best season to indulge in fresh produce; it's also the best time for making preserves for the rest of the year by pickling, smoking, drying, and salting.

Many beloved Estonian recipes originate from southern Estonia

Photo by: Joosep Martinson

Sõir, Estonian quark cheese, is a local staple originating from Setomaa. It used to be exclusively made in South Estonia and Latvia. Sõir is made of milk, quark (a fresh cheese made from soured milk), butter, eggs, salt, and caraway seeds.

Estonians are practical people, so smoking meat while bathing in the smoke sauna is also a well-practiced southern Estonian tradition and a part of UNESCO's cultural heritage list. Southern Estonians are also big on grains, so here you'll find a distinctively local porridge made from buckwheat, hemp, and lentils. Some perhaps more particular tastes include porridge made from stewed cabbage, beans, and lentils. Southern Estonians really love their porridge and stews!

South Estonia is big on porridge

Photo by: Mart Vares

Just as Canadians love their maple trees, Estonians love their birch. Birch leaves make for great sauna whisks and birch juice gives your body a boost of vitamins, especially important after a long winter.

UMA MEKK is a brand and an active food co-op made of independent Old Võrumaa producers. In addition to managing the local label, they organise a number of food markets around southern Estonia.

Last updated : 07.05.2022

In category: South Estonia, Food & Drink & Nightlife