Finnish Meatballs with Allspice, Sour Cream & Lingonberries


This is so Finnish and probably one of the dishes that really remains in my mind from my childhood. Allspice is very popular in Finland; its taste is a combination of nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves and black pepper and it can be ground or in berry form. If you are not sure that what you have got in your spice rack is, in fact, allspice, then use less than indicated here and add a little more later (I once ended up with a very liquorice-tasting mince meat). You can use ordinary cream instead of the sour cream here. You can also use a bought jam if you can find one, but this jam is really so quick and simple to make.


  • 3 slices white bread, crusts removed
  • 160 ml (β…” cup) milk
  • 1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) minced (ground) pork and beef
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ground allspice (pimento)
  • 60 g (2ΒΌ oz) butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 200 g (7 oz) sour cream
  • lingonberry or cranberry jam, to serve


Soak the bread in the milk in a large bowl for about 30 minutes or until it has absorbed all the milk and is very soft. Add the mince, egg, onion and allspice and season with salt and pepper. Knead together well with your hands, then form into small balls about the size of walnuts, rolling them between your palms so that they are compact and won’t fall apart when cooking.

Heat 40 g (1Β½ oz) of the butter with the olive oil in a non-stick frying pan. Fry the meatballs in batches, turning them once during cooking. (You will have to work quite quickly and take care not to burn the butter and oil. If necessary, wipe out the pan between batches and start again with a little less butter and oil.) Transfer the cooked meatballs to a heavy-based saucepan with any onion that is on the bottom of the pan and continue with the next batch.

Sprinkle the flour into the frying pan and mix with a wooden spoon until it is smooth. Add the remaining butter and let it melt. Continue cooking, stirring almost continuously, until it is a golden colour. Remove the pan from the heat and very slowly pour in 500 ml (2 cups) hot water, standing back a bit. Mix in quickly, then return the pan to the heat. Stir in the sour cream and mix well, then carefully pour over the meatballs. Season lightly with salt and pepper and cook, covered, over very low heat for 10–15 minutes, until you have a thick creamy sauce with soft meatballs to serve with berry jam and boiled potatoes.