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What Is a Palt?

By Megan Shoop
Updated May 16, 2024
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Palt is a traditional Swedish dish comprised of meat, potatoes, flour, milk, and spices. Dumplings made from this mixture are boiled in water and generally served with berry preserves. The preserves give a sweet counterpoint to the savory dumplings that many people find pleasing. Each dumpling is usually about the size of a woman’s fist. These meaty pastries may be eaten as an appetizer or as a small meal.

White potatoes are usually the veggie of choice when making palt. The cook usually grinds or grates the potatoes into small pieces and mixes them with ground meat, wheat flour, a little milk, and the spices of his or her choice. This usually forms a very thick, doughy paste. While the dumplings are being formed, the cook usually brings a large pot of salted water to a boil. The palt balls are then dropped into the pot and boiled for up to 30 minutes. When fully cooked, the dumplings will rise to the top of the water and float there.

Most palt dumplings are quickly drained and served right after they’re finished cooking. The preserves served with this dish are typically made from relatively acidic fruit. Lingonberries, cranberries, and elderberries are all traditional, though lingonberry preserves are the most popular. The palt may also be drizzled with melted butter to give it some extra flavor and nutrition. Sweden is very cold for most of the winter and palt is extremely dense and starchy. It likely offers a very high concentration of nutrients and necessary fats to people who have to work through the winter.

There are many variations on palt recipes, most of them having to do with location. Though white potatoes are the most popular dumpling base, Yukon gold, red-skinned, and russet potatoes may also be used. Some enterprising cooks might even try a sweet potato variation, which might work particularly well with the traditional ground pork or venison usually included in these recipes. Salt, garlic powder, onion powder, and many other spices may also be added or omitted, depending on the cook’s preferences.

Those living in northern Sweden often use ground reindeer meat and even a small amount of blood in their palt mixtures. The blood is often rich in protein and iron, two nutrients essential to helping human body systems work properly to warm the body. Blodpalt, as it is called, is often much darker in color than dumpling recipes that don’t include blood.

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