While you consider Iceland, you have a tendency to consider glaciers, geysers, volcanoes, earthquakes and dramatic landscapes. Not often do individuals consider tomatoes. Nonetheless, while you cease to consider the nation’s unending provide of geothermal power, it’s simple to see the potential. As greenhouse rising continues to develop, benefiting from the nation’s pure sources, so too does manufacturing. And while the nation’s manufacturing is minuscule in contrast with that of huge producers akin to China and India, 2020 alone noticed a rise of over 280% in Iceland’s exports of tomatoes. What’s extra, 40% of Iceland’s tomatoes come from only one place – Friðheimar, located 1 hour east of Reykjavik, the place there may be additionally a tomato-themed restaurant inside one of many website’s massive greenhouses.
Greenhouse rising has been practiced at Friðheimar since 1946 and the present house owners – horticulturist Helena Hermundardóttir and agronomist Knútur Rafn Ármann – have lived there with their youngsters, who’re additionally energetic contributors within the enterprise, since 1995.
So standard is the Friðheimar expertise that it’s strongly advisable to guide forward. Be aware that they’ll preserve your reservation for quarter-hour if you’re working late however, if it’s any longer, it’s essential to name and advise them of any delay if you wish to preserve your desk. In fact, it’s solely truthful to inform them, however demand is excessive so you should definitely afford this household enterprise this fundamental courtesy for those who don’t want to lose your desk! We had come straight from our Arctic Rafting journey, positioned lower than a 15-minute drive away, so judging the correct time was not too troublesome. If travelling from Reykjavik, I might enable an hour and a half, simply to make certain.
Having been proven to our desk located in an open space inside an enormous greenhouse, with aisle after aisle of tomato crops close by, we had been greeted by Sonia who gave us a very informative introduction to Friðheimar. We learnt about how Iceland’s many wealthy pure sources mix to offer optimum situations for tomato rising. A borehole positioned simply 200 metres away gives the proper geothermal heating system, offering a whole bunch of hundreds of tons of sizzling water every year, at a temperature of 95 levels Centigrade, thus serving to to offer the optimum temperature situations for fruit manufacturing.
Iceland’s plentiful ‘inexperienced electrical energy’ generated by hydro-electric and geothermal energy stations gives the power for Friðheimar’s excessive energy sodium lamps which run for 14 hours per day within the Summer time, and for at the very least 17 hours per day within the Winter. There are additionally carbon dioxide tanks to offer every thing somewhat enhance, with CO2 ranges in every greenhouse round double the degrees you would possibly usually anticipate.
In terms of style, crucial issue is water high quality. The crops are watered with the identical water that Icelanders drink – the standard is necessary as a result of tomatoes are about 90-92% water. and so higher water means better-tasting tomatoes.
Friðheimar doesn’t use any pesticides as a result of in Iceland there aren’t plenty of bugs or flies. As an alternative, they use a organic pest management system the place ‘good flies’ come from the Netherlands (Macrolophus callignosus) eat the eggs of the native ‘dangerous flies’, thus giving an excellent stability between these flies – it’s fairly a easy system however a really efficient one.
We learnt that Friðheimar can also be very near the markets so within the morning, staff attempt to decide the reddest tomatoes off the crops, and the packagers will normally ship them on the identical day. Friðheimar branding is used on the packaging, in addition to the Icelandic flag colors in order that you understand its native, and the house owners Knútur and Helena have gone one step additional and included photos of themselves, in addition to additional data to convey the enterprise nearer to the client.
The crops – there are 27,000 crops throughout 9 greenhouses – develop to about 9 months outdated and 9 metres lengthy and, after these 9 months, they’re despatched away to native farmers to compost. It’s good for Friðheimar to eliminate them, but additionally good for the farmers to get the compost.
Every thing begins within the nursery the place the crops are grown from seed there for about 6 weeks. After these 6 weeks, they’re put in the principle greenhouse the place they develop at a fee of about 25-30 centimetres per week (fairly quick!). The crops are twisted and lowered each single week, and the bottom three branches are eliminated – if they’re left, these branches take all of the power away that must be distributed all through the plant. There’s must be 18-20 branches of leaves per plant for optimum manufacturing.
There are solely 20 greenhouse staff coping with 27,000 crops and all of the choosing is completed by hand, twice a day. The most effective staff, although, are the bees, additionally imported from the Netherlands. There are round 1,200 bumble bees working on the website, and every bee can pollinate as much as 2,000 flowers per day. Once they pollinate the flowers, they depart a scent, so that they know to not go to the identical flower greater than as soon as. The pure lifetime of the working bumble bee is just about 6-8 weeks, while the queen lives for a few yr. Maybe unsurprisingly, the male bees simply fly round and don’t do any work in any respect.
The entire operation is aided by some unimaginable expertise, too. Management computer systems in every greenhouse management the warmth, humidity, carbon dioxide and lighting. Management computer systems are additionally linked with fertiliser blenders that water the crops in keeping with a pre-determined schedule. Climate stations on the rooftops get hold of data on wind pace, wind course, temperature and daylight. And all these gadgets are in flip linked to the principle pc, which is linked to the web. This enables the couple who personal Friðheimar to go surfing, wherever they’re on the planet, and monitor the standing, change settings and management watering.
Having discovered all about Friðheimar, which was actually fascinating, it was time for the principle occasion… lunch!
Our waiter was Lorenzo and, as you should have already gathered from the title, every thing that’s served at Friðheimar makes use of tomatoes in tne elements. And that features the drinks!
In addition to the apparent Bloody Mary tomato drink, you may select from drinks akin to
Wholesome Mary (a refreshing drink produced from inexperienced tomatoes, lime, honey and ginger, served chilled with glowing water), Mary Poppins Child (cucumber, mint and lime sorbet, stuffed up with glowing water) and even Friðheimar’s very personal tomato beer on draught, brewed from pink or inexperienced tomatoes.
Friðheimar’s signature course is their tomato soup. It’s served on a buffet with home-baked bread, bitter cream and cucumber salsa. Diners selecting this feature may also help themselves to as a lot soup and bread as they please.
However there additionally different tomato-based dishes to select from such because the recent mussels from Breiðafjörður – a big, shallow bay within the west of Iceland – cooked in Friðheimar’s particular tomato seafood sauce.
And notably tasty is their ravioli with home made pasta sauce and pesto.
Included with all principal programs is home made bread from the buffet.
After which there are the desserts… once more, all made utilizing tomatoes, after all, that embody this scrumptious cheesecake topped with tomato jam produced from inexperienced tomatoes, cinnamon and lime.
Alternatively, there’s the inexperienced tomato, apple and cinnamon pie served with whipped cream.
No matter you select, you might be certain to be delighted. It is a eating expertise like no different!
We beloved our time at Friðheimar – it was a enjoyable and memorable journey that we’d totally suggest you add to your itinerary… simply you should definitely guide upfront as it may be very fashionable, notably throughout the principle season.
And earlier than you allow, don’t neglect to go to the little tomato store the place you’ll discover a wide range of meals produce that you would be able to take with you as a memento of your go to.
Grasp Chef Jón Okay. B. Sigfússon has developed and designed all of the meals merchandise for the store and the restaurant. He has a few years of expertise from world wide, and has cooked for a lot of heads of state.
Planning a visit to Iceland your self? You may watch a video from our journey to Iceland right here. Footage from Friðheimar might be seen from 3m 30s – 3m 38s.