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Summer in Norway, as in all other Nordic countries, is very short, meaning people have to take advantage of every single summer day. So what to expect during summer in Norway? Probably going out in the nature, picking berries, and hunting for mushrooms!
1. Picking cloudberries
Cloudberries can only be found in swamps full of bloody thirsty mosquitoes close to the Artic Circle. And I, luckily, live close to such a place!
Here in Østlandet (the Eastern side of Norway), cloudberry season can start from as early as late June, and lasts until the end of August. However if you’re going up North, the season can start a little bit later, but not later then summer. In order to get out there and pick these super berries packed with vitamin C, omega-3 and omega-6, you need a pair of rubber boots, a water-proof jacket (better with hoodie to protect your ears from mosquitoes), mosquitoes repellent, and all kinds of boxes or buckets to store the berries. Now can you spot cloudberries in the picture below?
Once you can find place to pick cloudberries, be careful when picking them up. Ripe cloudberries is salmon-orange, people say, or peachy orange, in my opinion, and they are super soft. You have to gently remove the whole berry up straight from the stem, unless you want to eat mushy berries in stead.
Its taste is a little bit strange for first-timers, I think. It actually doesn’t taste like any berries I’ve tasted before. It’s creamy, earthy, and well… strange. But once I get used to the taste, I become addicted! I’ve heard about cloudberries pizza served in Finland, or cloudberries jam, muffins, etc., but the best way to enjoy them is to eat with whipped cream. This dish, multekrem, is a must-have dessert for Christmas dinner in Norway.
There was a documentary on TV here in Norway named Multekrig – Cloudberries War, which was about two old men trekking deep into the swamp for cloudberry. They stared at each other with blue steel eyes, then started the oh-so-Texas music, and slowly walked them toward the other, and finally they smiled and shook hands and talked about picking up berries!
Of course that film was humorously exaggerated, but it also reflexed the truth that nobody here wants you to know their place to pick cloudberries. So if you, unintentionally or not, enter one’s “cloudberries territory”, just fill your bucket and flee away as soon as possible!!!
Last year my cousin and I picked about 4kg of cloudberries in “our territory”, where I sure will show you in no way 😉
2. Picking bilberries
A cousin of blueberry, bilberry aka wild blueberry, is smaller, darker, tarter, and loaded with vitamin C and antioxidants. During summer in Norway, bilberries can be found in the pastures and forests spreading over the country.
It’s very easy to pick bilberries. You can either pick ’em by hands, or use a berry picker/ berry rake to do it faster. Be prepared for purple-stained fingers and mouth.
You can do many things with these tiny berries, such as bilberries muffins (mmm…), smoothies, or with ice cream or whipped cream. This year, we already went out searching for them but couldn’t find anything. Seriously. I don’t know why!
3. Hunting for mushrooms (mostly chanterelles)
Compared to the two things I’ve done above, hunting for and picking mushrooms is the most dangerous outdoor activity in summer in Norway, I think.
Because if you by mistake pick the wrong ones aka poisonous mushrooms, then you’ll have the chance to taste them once in your lifetime!
In the beginning of August, after some summer rains, mushrooms start to grow fast in the forest. Among hundreds of mushrooms out there, only several ones can be eaten. Except for those with so bright colours like red or shiny yellow that we were taught at school they are poisonous, the rest just has normal colours (light brown, white…) which makes it almost impossible to identify.
I’m not a forest person, nor have I experience hunting for mushrooms, but there is one kind of them that can be recognised immediately: chanterelles. Chanterelles grow low on the forest ground covered by moss. It can be detected by its bright peach-yellow colour. However, don’t pick if you’re not sure.
After picking, use a soft brush to clean them. Don’t wash with water as you don’t want any mushy chanterelles dish. Then sauté them on medium low heat with a teaspoon of butter, until they start to release their moisture. As the mushrooms cook, more and more moisture will escape into the pan. After a few minutes, moisture will no longer escape from the mushrooms. Continue to cook until all of the water in the pan has evaporated and the mushrooms once again rest on a dry bottom. Taste with salt and freshly grounded pepper. You can find more recipes online.
If you’d like to go hunting for mushroom, please take my advice: GO WITH THE EXPERT! In case you’re 99.99% sure about the ones you’ve picked, just leave them alone. You have to be even 1000% sure about what you’re going to put into your mouth when it comes to wild mushrooms!
I took this picture from last year, when we picked chanterelles with my husband’s uncle, a mushroom expert. We also picked chanterelles by ourselves this summer, and luckily I picked the right ones 😀
These are my most favourite outdoor activities to do during summer in Norway. Just as they say it here: “Ut på tur, aldri sur”. (Out on a trip, be in a good mood). How about you?