Historically, in the far North, meats such as reindeer, and other (semi-) game dishes were eaten, some of which have their roots in the Sami culture, while fresh vegetables have played a larger role in the South.
Many traditional dishes employ simple, contrasting flavours, such as the traditional dish of meatballs and brown cream sauce with tart, pungent lingonberry jam (slightly similar in taste to cranberry sauce).
Fruit soups with high viscosity, like rose hip soup and blueberry soup (blåbärssoppa) served hot or cold, are typical of Swedish cuisine.
Butter and margarine are the primary fat sources, although olive oil is becoming more popular.
Sweden's pastry tradition features a variety of yeast buns, cookies, biscuits and cakes; many of them are in a very sugary style and often eaten with coffee (fika) are enormously popular in Sweden.
The importance of fish has governed Swedish population and trade patterns far back in history. Salt became a major trade item at the dawn of the Scandinavian middle ages, which began circa 1000 AD.
Cabbage preserved as sauerkraut and various kinds of preserved berries, apples, etc.
were used once as a source of vitamin C during the winter (today sauerkraut is very seldom used in Swedish cuisine).Lingonberry jam, still a favourite, may be the most traditional and typical Swedish way to add freshness to sometimes rather heavy food, such as steaks and stews.Potatoes are often served as a side dish, often boiled.Swedish cuisine has a huge variety of breads of different shapes and sizes, made of rye, wheat, oat, white, dark, sourdough, and whole grain, and including flatbreads and crispbreads.There are many sweetened bread types and some use spices.Many meat dishes, especially meatballs, are served with lingonberry jam.