Norwegian Berries

norwegian_berriesThe growing season in Norway is fairly short, so only certain fruits can thrive. One of the better suited fruits are berries, thanks to the cooler summer weather and long daylight hours. So it should come as no surprise that Norwegians are wild about foraging and picking. Berry season begins in late June with strawberries and lasts through mid-October with black currants. Because of the brief season, berries that cannot be used immediately are frozen, or made into jam.

Jordbær, strawberries, are the first to ripen, in late June, and are considered a high point of the summer. Norwegians will go berry picking or clamor to buy up flats of local strawberries. So much so, that the locations of wild strawberry patches are well-guarded family secrets. Norwegian strawberries are smaller than imported strawberries, a deeper red and more flavorful. Strawberries are usually enjoyed fresh with sugar and/or cream, or in bløtkake, a cream cake.

Multer/Molter/Moltebær, cloudberries, are the crown jewel of Norwegian fruit. They grow above the Arctic Circle in marshes and resemble large orange-pink raspberries. Multer only grow in the wild and cannot be farmed, so unless you forage your own, or are willing to pay as much as $20 per pound they can be hard to come by. Known as viddas gull (highland gold), multer are delicate and juicy, and flavored like sweet-tart apples. They require hand-picking, and if you fill a bucket, the layer at the bottom will quickly become juice. There are sacred codes surrounding multer- you never pluck them before they are ripe (it’s actually illegal), and you are required to hike in and out. This way, no one person makes off with all of the harvest.

Other berries include tyttebær (cowberries/lingonberries) which taste similar to cranberries, krøkebær/krekling(crowberries) which resemble blueberries but are black and are mainly used in juice, moreller (Morello cherries),bjørnebær (blackberries) which people grow in their yards, blåbær (bilberries) or Arctic blueberries which are used in juices, tea, desserts and syrup. Bringebær (raspberries) grow both in the wild and in gardens, are used in sauces, cakes, and jams. Rips (red currants) and solbær (black currants) are harvested late into September and are used to make juice, wine, liqueur and jam. Elgbær (moose berries) grow close to the ground, and if you see some, you should be on the lookout for nearby moose.

Here is a recipe for Trollkrem, or troll cream, a typical Norwegian lingonberry mousse.

Trollkrem – recipe from Ekte Norsk Mat

Ingredients

  • 2 Cups lingonberries, or
  • ½ Cup lingonberry jam
  • ⅔ Cup sugar
  • 2 Egg whites, from large eggs

Troll cream was a magical part of our New Year’s Eve celebration. To us youngsters, it was truly wizardry because the volume expanded as we stirred. And we did not mind sitting and stirring as long as we had a good book in our hands.

Today, of course, we use electric mixers to make the magical troll cream. You may substitute cranberries for the lingonberries, but be sure they are very ripe, and adjust sugar accordingly.

Directions

Step 1

Wash berries and remove all unripe berries and foreign objects.

Step 2

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and beat until the volumes quadruples. about 15 minutes. If you are using lingonberry jam, omit sugar.

Step 3

Serve in a crystal dessert bowl sprinkled with a few lingonberries. If available, add a few mint leaves. Cookies are a great accompaniment, or serve in Crisp Wafer Cups (Krumkakeskåler). Serves 8.

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