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Vispipuuro means “whisked porridge” in Finnish, and is a dessert porridge made of wheat and berries whisked to an airy, almost whipped cream consistency. Traditionally, the ingredients are semolina wheat flour and lingonberry, but there are variations of this dish in other countries, particularly those of high latitude with colder climes. First cooked together into a thick porridge, usually with the inclusion of sugar, the cooled mixture is then vigorously whipped to incorporate air. Also sometimes called ilmapuuro, or “air porridge,” it is popularly served topped with cream and a sprinkling of additional sugar.
Semolina, a coarse grind of durum wheat, is a milled grain staple used throughout Europe. It may be better known as the principal ingredient of pasta, but it is also consumed as a breakfast cereal. This characteristically yellow colored starch has a strong capacity for absorbing liquid and is therefore also used as a thickening agent in savory soups or sweet puddings. In Finnish cuisine, semolina is commonly boiled and eaten for breakfast as a mushy, heavy, and fortifying type of porridge. Although made from a different type of wheat, in the U.S. it is called farina and sold by trade names such as Cream of Wheat® and Malt-o-Meal®.
Lingonberry is the very tart fruit, largely wild and commercially uncultivated, of a stunted evergreen plant called lingon in Swedish. It is found throughout the world’s forest and tundra of the north Arctic. In English-speaking countries, it is sometimes called “cowberry” from a translation of its botanical name Vaccinium. Vispipuuro is commonly prepared using lingonberry, but can be creatively prepared with most any fruit, whether fresh, preserved or processed. It is especially tasteful with one that is sour, such as cranberries, gooseberries, and apricots.
Vispipuuro is a uniquely whipped porridge. A traditional Finnish recipe for four servings will call for approximately 4.25 cups (1 liter) of water, 1.25 cups (300 ml) of fresh lingonberry, 0.66 cups (150 ml) of sugar, and a pinch of salt to be boiled for about ten minutes. Mashed and strained, the flavored syrup is infused with 0.75 cups (180 ml), or fractionally more to preference, of semolina, and simmered while stirring for another ten minutes. The mixture is removed from heat and allowed to cool, perhaps for 30 minutes. Then it will be either whipped with a handheld whisk or beaten with an electric mixer for about 20 minutes. It will then lighten in color and change to the texture of a mousse or thick foam.
Prior to modern conveniences, it probably took considerable work to both harvest and process wheat and fruits. Making vispipuuro likely took quite some time. In modern times, durum wheat is available in more refined flour, tart fruits are processed into sweetened juice concentrates, and appliances can be turned on and ignored until their set timers automatically turn off. Vispipuuro is easy to prepare and share.
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