Skånegås is a particularly large goose with striking plumage of grey-brown and snowy white. The dark head and neck show off the bright orange beak to great advantage. They live mostly on grass throughout their life. Traditionally they were let out on the autumn stubble after harvest where they fattened very quickly just prior to slaughtering. Male Skånegås are 7-11kg and females are 6-8kg. Descended from the wild greylag geese many centuries ago, they have discovered bones on archaeological sites dating from 500BC. Geese are one of the easiest farm animals to tame and domesticate and the plumage and colours we see today were standardised around 1920.
Modern breeds are smaller and fit modern ovens whereas Skånegås are huge! They also lay fewer eggs than modern breeds, laying around 20 white eggs annually, each weighing 170-190g. Skånegås would not work in mass production agricultural systems. They are best for small-scale food production. What makes it distinctive is that it is a flightless goose – too heavy to fly. Skånegås has rich flavours, pleasantly gamey with dark flesh. It has a considerable amount of high quality meat, with a layer of fine fat just under the skin, and takes long a cooking time.
Skånegås has a traditional day in Skåne when they celebrate St Martin’s Day on Nov 11th and it is traditional to eat a Goose Dinner. For St Martin’s Day, Skånegås is slow cooked, often stuffed with apples and prunes, in the oven for several hours and served with braised red cabbage, roasted apples and potatoes, rich gravy and vegetables. The blood is served as a starter as svartsoppa (black soup), a rich reddish-black soup, seasoned with spices, with the throat, heart and liver served on the side. Sometimes the liver is made into a goose liver pate instead. Skånegås leftovers make a delicious stock for soups and the meat can be used for pies and cold cuts with apple sauce. Skånegås eggs are large, weighing 170-190g.
As the regional food culture struggles to survive, the Skånegås is collateral damaged and will disappear. The breed is also at risk from cross-breeding. Males were often used for breeding with Italian geese that are highly productive egg-layers to increase egg production but the flavour of the cross-bred goose is inferior. Meanwhile pure-bred Skånegås become increasingly rare. A few enthusiasts are interested in preserving the breed and it is one of Sweden’s live genebanks.