When you consider Iceland, you have a tendency to think about glaciers, geysers, volcanoes, earthquakes and dramatic landscapes. Rarely do individuals consider tomatoes. However, whenever you cease to consider the nation’s endless provide of geothermal power, it’s straightforward to see the potential. As greenhouse rising continues to broaden, profiting from the nation’s pure sources, so too does manufacturing. And while the nation’s manufacturing is minuscule in contrast with that of enormous 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 kids, who’re additionally energetic members within the enterprise, since 1995.
So widespread is the Friðheimar expertise that it’s strongly advisable to ebook forward. Note that they’ll maintain your reservation for quarter-hour if you’re working late however, if it’s any longer, you should name and advise them of any delay if you wish to maintain your desk. Of course, it’s solely honest to inform them, however demand is excessive so you should definitely afford this household enterprise this primary courtesy in the event you 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 suitable time was not too tough. If travelling from Reykjavik, I might permit 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 vegetation close by, we have 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 supply optimum circumstances for tomato rising. A borehole positioned simply 200 metres away supplies the proper geothermal heating system, offering tons of of hundreds of tons of sizzling water annually, at a temperature of 95 levels Centigrade, thus serving to to supply the optimum temperature circumstances for fruit manufacturing.
Iceland’s considerable ‘green electricity’ generated by hydro-electric and geothermal energy stations supplies the power for Friðheimar’s excessive energy sodium lamps which run for 14 hours per day within the Summer, and for not less than 17 hours per day within the Winter. There are additionally carbon dioxide tanks to offer all the things somewhat enhance, with CO2 ranges in every greenhouse round double the degrees you would possibly usually anticipate.
When it involves style, a very powerful issue is water high quality. The vegetation are watered with the identical water that Icelanders drink – the standard is essential 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 a number of bugs or flies. Instead, they use a organic pest management system the place ‘good flies’ come from the Netherlands (Macrolophus callignosus) eat the eggs of the native ‘bad flies’, thus giving a very good 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, employees attempt to choose the reddest tomatoes off the vegetation, 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 recognize its native, and the house owners Knútur and Helena have gone one step additional and included footage of themselves, in addition to additional info to convey the enterprise nearer to the client.
The vegetation – there are 27,000 vegetation throughout 9 greenhouses – develop to about 9 months previous and 9 metres lengthy and, after these 9 months, they’re despatched away to native farmers to compost. It’s good for Friðheimar to get rid of them, but additionally good for the farmers to get the compost.
Everything begins within the nursery the place the vegetation are grown from seed there for about 6 weeks. After these 6 weeks, they’re put in the primary greenhouse the place they develop at a charge of about 25-30 centimetres per week (fairly quick!). The vegetation 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 employees coping with 27,000 vegetation and all of the selecting is finished by hand, twice a day. The finest employees, 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. When 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 simply about 6-8 weeks, while the queen lives for a few 12 months. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the male bees simply fly round and don’t do any work in any respect.
The entire operation is aided by some unbelievable know-how, too. Control computer systems in every greenhouse management the warmth, humidity, carbon dioxide and lighting. Control computer systems are additionally linked with fertiliser blenders that water the vegetation in line with a pre-determined schedule. Weather stations on the rooftops acquire info on wind pace, wind route, temperature and daylight. And all these units are in flip related to the primary laptop, which is linked to the web. This permits the couple who personal Friðheimar to go surfing, wherever they’re on the earth, and monitor the standing, change settings and management watering.
Having realized all about Friðheimar, which was actually fascinating, it was time for the primary occasion… lunch!
Our waiter was Lorenzo and, as you should have already gathered from the title, all the things that’s served at Friðheimar makes use of tomatoes in tne components. And that features the drinks!
As nicely as the apparent Bloody Mary tomato drink, you’ll be able to select from drinks akin to
Healthy Mary (a refreshing drink made out of inexperienced tomatoes, lime, honey and ginger, served chilled with glowing water), Mary Poppins Baby (cucumber, mint and lime sorbet, stuffed up with glowing water) and even Friðheimar’s very personal tomato beer on draught, brewed from crimson or inexperienced tomatoes.
Friðheimar’s signature course is their tomato soup. It is served on a buffet with home-baked bread, bitter cream and cucumber salsa. Diners selecting this selection will help themselves to as a lot soup and bread as they please.
But there additionally different tomato-based dishes to select from such because the contemporary 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 selfmade pasta sauce and pesto.
Included with all foremost programs is selfmade bread from the buffet.
And then there are the desserts… once more, all made utilizing tomatoes, after all, that embrace this scrumptious cheesecake topped with tomato jam made out of inexperienced tomatoes, cinnamon and lime.
Alternatively, there’s the inexperienced tomato, apple and cinnamon pie served with whipped cream.
Whatever you select, you might be certain to be delighted. This is a eating expertise like no different!
We liked our time at Friðheimar – it was a enjoyable and memorable journey that we’d completely suggest you add to your itinerary… simply you should definitely ebook prematurely as it may be highly regarded, notably throughout the primary season.
And earlier than you allow, don’t overlook to go to the little tomato store the place you’ll discover quite a lot of meals produce you can take with you as a memento of your go to.
Master 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 all over the world, and has cooked for a lot of heads of state.
Planning a visit to Iceland your self? You can watch a video from our journey to Iceland right here. Footage from Friðheimar might be seen from 3m 30s – 3m 38s.