The hunt for the berries often referred to as “the gold of the Barents Region” has started two weeks earlier than normal.
After a very warm spring, cloudberries can already be harvested in the wilderness as far north as Finnmark County in Norway. Further south, like in Oulu region and southern Lapland in Finland, the season started last week.
For many, cloudberries are the magic symbol of the north. Exclusive, mysterious and if the Arctic has a “taste,” it is the taste of cloudberries.
Locals have their secret swamps, their locations are closely guarded family secrets passed down from generation to generation. In Finnmark, one legendary story tells about an old woman who broke her leg while picking cloudberries. True or not – the story claims that instead of revealing the location of her swamp, she hobbled several kilometres away before her friends were allowed to call in a search-and-rescue helicopter to take her to hospital.
This year’s cloudberry season seems to be better than normal as well. In addition to an unusual early and warm spring, enough rainfall and insects seem to help the ripening.
Related stories from around the North:
Canada: Arctic plants to be studied in Nunavut, Alaska Dispatch News
Finland: Early season for Finland’s wild mushrooms and berries, Yle News
Norway: Arctic bird cliff will be Norway’s next contribution to slow TV, The Independent Barents Observer
Sweden: OK to eat meat, berries from Swedish forests affected by Chernobyl disaster, Radio Sweden
United States: Traditional foods making their way onto elders’ plates in Northwest Alaska, Alaska Dispatch