Yesterday my daughter and I went with a colleague of mine to a nature preserve area that was new to all of us, with the purpose of foraging for cloudberries. We had picked this area since the combination of forest and bogs in this area, and the time of the year would be the right conditions for cloudberries. Cloudberries are rare, and a treat to them lucky enough to know of an area where they grow.
In theory this is a place where they would thrive. You can’t really tell looking at the photo, but we had to thread very carefully, and jump in between spots of solid ground over this bog. My daughter had never experienced that before and found it both scary and exhausting. I won’t lie, there was a couple hours of complaining. We stopped and had a late lunch on a beautiful island, in the middle of the bog. That lightened her spirit some, but it was still tough. We saw some signs of moose, and heard many birds, but no signs of cloudberries. After finishing up our meal we decided to find our way back to the forest and solid ground, and see if we would have better luck on the other side of the nature preserve.
This tired girl was happy to be back in the forest.
To me the day was magical. There was a light breeze, and almost no insects. Very unusual for an area like this. My daughter caught glimpses of that magic too.
A cloudberry (Rubus chamaemorus) is a herbaceous plant in alpine, tundra and boreal forest. The fruit is an amber-colored edible fruit similar to the raspberry or blackberry. Despite great demand as a delicacy (particularly in Russia, Norway and Finland) the cloudberry is not widely cultivated. It is mainly a wild plant. Wholesale prices vary widely by the size of the yearly harvest, but cloudberries have gone for as much as €10/kg (in 2004). The ripe fruits are golden-yellow, soft and juicy, and are rich in vitamin C. When eaten fresh, cloudberries have a distinctive tart taste. When over-ripe, they have a creamy texture somewhat like yogurt, and a sweetened flavour. They are often made into jams, juices, tarts, and liqueurs. They are very popular in Scandinavia. The plant spreads by two means. Its seeds are spread by birds and mammals. Locally, its rhizomes develop into wide berry patches.
– Wikipediea (https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloudberry)
On the other side we did find millions of cloudberry leaves, but no cloudberries. We walked and walked, even took the car a couple miles another direction but the only thing we found was cloudberry leaves. Well, not exactly the only thing we found, but we did not find cloudberries. My colleague and I have a theory that it might have been too cold in this are during the spring for any flowers to develop.
Like I said, cloudberries are rare. Once when I was a teenager I worked long days in a bakery all summer, to save up for my drivers license. My little sister slept in every day, and played with her friends while I was working. A few days before the end off the summer break she overheard some elderly folks saying that they’ve found a huge patch of cloudberries in the mountains, a few hours from us. She walked up and asked them if she could go with them the next day. They agreed. She went with them and picked cloudberries for three days (she had never picked cloudberries before.) She then sold the cloudberries to a restaurant, and made more money working three days than I did working three months that summer. If you ever had cloudberries you know why they are special.
All the forests are full of blueberries, and we decided to at least pick some blueberries before heading back home.
Since I wasn’t planning on picking blueberries when I left home I didn’t bring my berry pickers. It is a little slower to pick by hand, but on the other hand you don’t have to sort out leaves etc when you get home.
I love these free antioxidants, and had a bunch with my yoghurt this morning. We have blueberries in the freezer for that extra energy kick that we may need this winter, and I will add more before the season is over. By the time we started to pick blueberries my daughter’s mood had improved and she enjoyed picking some herself. We picked side by side, and I told her stories about the forest that my grandma told me when I was her age and we picked berries together.
I feel so light when I’m in the forest. I can’t explain the feeling, my heart and body is light, I breath easily, and feel like flying although I am often quietly sitting down absorbing with all my senses. I hope you enjoyed the visit to Slogmyrlokens Naturreservat.