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What Is Pitepalt?

By Andy Josiah
Updated May 16, 2024
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Pitepalt is a dish from the Scandinavian and northern European country of Sweden that is made out of potatoes and barley or wheat flour. It is classified as a palt, which is defined as a customary Swedish dumpling filled with meat. Pitepalt in particular is a potato dumpling, and its manner of preparation makes it similar to several other foods in Europe and Asia.

Pitea, Sweden, is the origin of pitepalt, which is why the dish is named after the city. The city serves as the capital of Pitea Municipality in Norrbotten County, which is located in the northernmost section of the country. It is said that the dish has several variants in this locality, and it is considered the place’s culinary specialty. Pitepalt, however, is also consumed in other places in Sweden.

Pitepalt is prepared from raw grated potatoes, which are mixed with flour and some salt to create some dough. A pot with water and salt is placed on the fire to boil, while portions of the dough are cut and rolled into the size of tennis balls. It is at this point that the cook can poke holes in the balls to put in his choice of meat, which is usually beef, pork or bacon. Once placed in the hole, it must be completely closed to prevent the contents from spilling out during cooking.

The balls are then placed in the boiling pot of water. Cooking time usually lasts 45 minutes to an hour. Like other types of palt, pitepalt is traditionally served with butter and lingonberry jam. The latter is a staple food item in the Scandinavian countries that comprise Sweden, Norway and Denmark. It is made from the sour fruit of the Vaccinium vitis-idaea evergreen shrub. Pitepalt is typically washed down with milk.

Pitepalt is frequently associated with kroppkakor, since they are both palts and use the same ingredients. Kroppkakor, however, is made out of cooked potatoes, thus giving it a lighter color; pitepalt is comparatively darker. There is also a variant of pitepalt called blodpalt, which involves adding blood to the dumpling. This gives it an even darker color than usual.

Other similar food items in Europe include khinkali from Georgia, maultaschen from Germany, and varenyky from the Ukraine. In Asia, the wonton of China, the chuchvara of Uzbekistan, and the siopao of Thailand and the Philippines are examples. The connecting characteristic is the preparation of the dumpling with dough and some form of filling.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By orangey03 — On Mar 09, 2012

I have made beef pitepalt before, but I ate it with green beans instead of jam. It seemed like more of a supper dish.

When I make pitepalt for breakfast, I always use bacon. I have trouble stomaching other types of meat that early in the morning.

Also, bacon is best when you plan to eat the pitepalt with jam. It's like having a meat waffle made of potatoes and covered in gooey sweetness!

I must admit that I drink coffee to wash mine down rather than milk. I hate the taste of straight milk, and I think I would throw up if I drank it with meat.

By wavy58 — On Mar 09, 2012

@OeKc05 – Indeed, the potatoes are wet. I have to drain the water off before forming the balls, because they would just flop over into a pile if I didn't.

It is very important to put flour on your fingers before you start handling the dough. This will keep it from sticking to your skin, and it will make forming the balls so much easier.

I usually boil mine for 50 minutes. This seems like the perfect amount of time for cooking the meat thoroughly.

One thing I can say about this dish is that it is very filling. You don't have to eat a lot of potatoes and meat to satisfy your appetite, so I usually don't make very much pitepalt at one time.

By OeKc05 — On Mar 08, 2012

@MyKol – I agree with you. I would feel like a vampire eating blood! It does sound gross.

The closest thing I can think of to pitepalt is the Chinese wonton. I usually get these from the buffet of my favorite Asian restaurant, and they are always filled with pork. They are flavored with garlic, and I believe I detect a hint of green onion in them, as well.

I had never heard of using grated potatoes in this manner before reading this article. I do see how they could hold together well, though, since they are so wet and mushy.

By lighth0se33 — On Mar 08, 2012

Pitepalt is perfect for guys like my husband. He has always claimed to be a “meat and potatoes man,” and it is nearly impossible for me to get him to eat any green vegetables.

He is all about the beef, so I fill his dumplings with that. I, however, prefer the bacon. There is something about bacon and potatoes that makes them taste so good together. Perhaps I associate the grated potatoes with hash browns in my mind, a breakfast staple that goes well with bacon.

We aren't all the way traditional with pitepalt, however. We don't eat it with jam or drink milk with it. I simply heard about pitepalt from my friend, and it sounded like the perfect meal for my husband.

By andee — On Mar 07, 2012

I have never been to Pitea, Sweden, but I have visited this country and had this dish more than once.

I am a picky eater, and not always thrilled about trying new foods, but this one sounded pretty safe. It was much better than I thought it would be and I ended up having it several times while I was there.

The lingonberries they use for this jam are all over the forests in this country. Many people will pick these berries themselves to make their own jam.

While the meat and dough mixture is good, I think it is the sweet jam that really makes this dish special.

By John57 — On Mar 06, 2012

@SarahSon - I ran into the same problem when I was looking for the ingredients to make pitepalt. I did some research and discovered you can buy it at some IKEA stores.

Since this is a Swedish company this makes sense. The first time I tried some of this jam, I really loved the taste. You can use it just like you would any other jam, and it tastes great on toast, muffins and biscuits.

It has the perfect combination of sweetness and tartness and has become one of our favorites. It just isn't as easy to find as other jams we are used to.

When I made the pitepalt, it turned out great and I understand why they love serving this with lingonberry jam. The sweetness of the jam combined with the saltiness of the meat in the dumpling really has a unique taste.

By SarahSon — On Mar 05, 2012

I love trying new and different foods, and this is something I have never had before. They sound absolutely delicious, but I wonder where I would find lingonberry jam?

I would think you could substitute just about any kind of your favorite jam, but would love to try this the way it is traditionally prepared.

This sounds like a Swedish dish that would be fun to try and would taste good on a cold evening. I am not very familiar with Swedish food, and the only thing I can think of that I have had in the past is Swedish meatballs.

By Mykol — On Mar 05, 2012

I have never had pitepalt, but it does sound like it would taste pretty good. I think a combination of beef and bacon would taste good inside a warm dumpling.

About the only way I have ever eaten dumplings is my favorite chicken and dumpling recipe. The warm dumpling mixed in with the chicken is a wonderful comfort food.

I just can't imagine someone enjoying the look or taste of blodpalt though. The thought of adding blood to any kind of food makes me nauseated just thinking about it.

I know this is a tradition in some countries, but have a hard time stomaching the thought of it. I guess if that is what I had grown up with, I probably wouldn't think it was weird at all.

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