This captivating photo story, brought to you by National Geographic Traveller (UK), invites you to embark on a mesmerizing journey through the Arctic Circle and its archipelagos in Norway. Join the locals as they venture into the enchanting wilderness in search of the elusive golden cloudberry, known affectionately as “molte” or “multe” in the region.
On the Hunt for Liquid Gold
On the picturesque island of Andøya, a stream of locals eagerly tread an unsigned dirt road, each armed with a bucket in hand. Against the backdrop of mist-shrouded Ørnlitnden, they set out on a quest to discover the treasure hidden in the peat-rich moorland – the coveted cloudberry. These berries grow on single stems just centimeters above the ground, sparsely scattered across the boggy terrain, making the search both challenging and thrilling.
A Tradition Worth Taking Time Off For
But for the intrepid locals, cloudberry foraging isn’t just a pastime; it’s a cherished tradition and a vital summer activity. Many even take time off from their work to partake in this age-old pursuit. As they meander through the wilds, the anticipation of unearthing these golden gems fills the air.
Scenic Splendor on Andøya
The white-sand beaches of Bleik, connected by a Scenic Route, create an idyllic setting along Andøya’s west coast. Here, the island’s southern marshlands and the steep slopes of the mountains offer prime cloudberry hunting grounds. The beauty of Andøya, accentuated by the midnight sun in summer, bathes the coastline in the warm light of the ‘golden hour’ during the early morning. This constant daylight accelerates the ripening of the molte berries, turning picking into a race against time.
Cultural Significance of Cloudberries
Beyond their culinary appeal, cloudberries hold profound cultural importance for communities across the Arctic region. Meet Laila Inga, a reindeer herder and Indigenous Sámi residing on the island of Hinnøya in the Vesterålen region. She personally collects cloudberries from her own marshland, continuing the age-old tradition of her people.
From Food to Medicine
Cloudberries aren’t just a source of food; they have also been used in traditional medicine, including as a remedy for scurvy. Knowledge of the best picking spots is part of the Indigenous wisdom passed down through generations. This knowledge connects the past and the present, preserving the essence of a bygone era.
Golden Bounty for the Locals
After the successful harvest, locals return home with buckets brimming with golden cloudberries. These versatile treasures are transformed into jams, desserts, and preserved or frozen for year-round enjoyment.
A Taste of Tradition
In Andenes, the largest settlement on Andøya, islander Siren Nymo works her magic in the kitchen. She blends the berries with sugar to craft a quick compote, perfect for spreading on toast or adorning a cake. In Norway, “multekrem,” a heavenly combination of whipped cream and cloudberries, is a beloved treat.
This mesmerizing cloudberry quest, with its rich tradition, cultural significance, and natural beauty, invites you to savor the flavors and experiences of Norway’s Arctic Circle and its bountiful archipelagos.
Published in the October 2023 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK), this story beckons you to embark on your own adventure, following in the footsteps of those who seek liquid gold amid the Arctic’s wonders. Subscribe to National Geographic Traveller (UK) magazine for more captivating tales of exploration. (Available in select countries only).
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Cloudberry Harvest
What are cloudberries, and why are they significant in Norway’s Arctic region?
Cloudberries are golden berries that grow in the peat-rich moorlands of Norway’s Arctic region. They are known locally as “molte” or “multe.” These berries hold cultural importance for many communities in the Arctic, serving as a symbol of tradition and a source of essential vitamins. They were even used in traditional medicine, such as a remedy for scurvy.
Where can you find the best cloudberry picking locations in Norway’s Arctic?
Some of the best cloudberry picking locations in Norway’s Arctic include the southern marshlands of the island of Andøya and the steep slopes of the mountains. These areas offer prime conditions for cloudberry growth, and locals often embark on journeys to these spots during the cloudberry season.
How does the midnight sun impact cloudberry picking in Norway’s Arctic?
During the summer in Norway’s Arctic, the midnight sun ensures nearly constant daylight. This extended daylight accelerates the ripening of cloudberry berries, making it a race to pick them at their best. Cloudberry enthusiasts must be prepared to forage during unusual hours, such as the early morning when the warm light of the ‘golden hour’ bathes the coastline.
What is the significance of cloudberries to the Indigenous Sámi people?
Cloudberries are not only a source of food for the Indigenous Sámi people but also hold cultural significance. They are part of Indigenous knowledge passed down through generations. For example, Sámi reindeer herder Laila Inga collects cloudberries from her own marshland, continuing the tradition of her people.
How do locals in Norway’s Arctic use cloudberries after the harvest?
After a successful cloudberry harvest, locals take buckets of golden cloudberries home. These versatile berries are used to make jams, desserts, and compotes. They are also preserved or frozen to ensure a year-round supply of this precious fruit. In Norway, a favorite combination is “multekrem,” which consists of whipped cream and cloudberries.
Where can I read more captivating stories like this one?
You can find more captivating stories like this one in the October 2023 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK). This magazine offers a wealth of articles and insights on exploration, travel, and cultural experiences. Subscribe to National Geographic Traveller (UK) for access to a treasure trove of adventure tales and discoveries. (Note: Availability may vary by country.)