On the hunt: Cloudberry picking in Norway

This guide to cloudberry picking will have you finding these delicious golden berries in no time.

Treasure lies in the northernmost regions of Norway. Scattered through fields, quietly growing in backyards and near roadsides, small golden berries sit, waiting to be found. If you're willing to trek to the right locations, search for perfectly ripe berries and carefully pluck them from the bushes, you will be well-rewarded. Welcome to cloudberry picking, the hunt for the delicious but elusive arctic fruit that has come to define Norwegian cuisine and culture. Here's a guide to this wonderful treat:

About the cloudberry

Cloudberries, or molter as they're known in Norway, are small, raspberry-like fruits that grow in the northernmost parts of the country. You can only spot these little berries in or very close to the Arctic Circle during late summer. Though they're notoriously difficult to find, they're well-worth the effort. They're super juicy and sweet and sour all at once, making them a culinary delight.

These little orange berries are a huge part of Norwegian economy. Even if you don't decide to go picking for yourself, you should definitely find a chance to try this Scandinavian delight. They're sold in markets throughout the country, and restaurants often feature them in desserts. Keep your eyes peeled, and take any opportunity you get to experience this rare treat.

Highland gold

Cloudberries are also sometimes called highland gold. Although this is certainly due to their golden color, it's also a great way to describe their sheer rarity. The first factor making cloudberries so difficult to get ahold of is their small growing region. Since they only grow in the arctic, there simply aren't very many places where they can exist. In addition, they're notoriously fragile, and don't thrive under direct care. This means that it's next to impossible for someone to intentionally grow cloudberry bushes. Moreover, those bushes that are grown tend not to produce very much fruit. This means the only way to get cloudberries is to find and pick them in the wild.

Where to find them

Cloudberries can grow anywhere in or close to the Arctic Circle, but there are areas where they're more likely to appear. Your best bet for finding a bountiful field is to ask around. Guides in different regions will be able to tell you the best spots for picking berries, so you won't have to waste time in fruitless places.

Once you're in the right area, you need to know how to spot the plant. Cloudberry bushes are small, with jagged green-and-red leaves. When you've found the bush, pick only the berries that have a golden honey color - these berries are ripe and ready to eat. If you see a berry that's mostly orange but has a slight hint of red color, that's okay - some mature berries have a bit of a blush. Gather these berries into your bag and get ready for a real treat.

Before you go berry picking, however, make sure you know the rules of the region. Different parts of Norway have different rules when it comes to gathering cloudberries. In many areas, you can pick berries anywhere that isn't fenced in. That said, never simply assume you're in one of those areas, as some cities have far stricter guidelines. For example, in Finmark, where the land is actually owned by the state, you need to ask permission from the sheriff if you want to take berries with you.

How to make Cloudberry Syrup

Looking for a way to use your freshly picked cloudberries? Make some cloudberry syrup! This delicious fruit syrup is the perfect toping for cakes, cobblers and ice cream. Sweet and tart all at once, cloudberry syrup is sure to impress.

Start to finish: 40 minutes
Yields: 2 cups syrup
5 cups rinsed cloudberries
2 cups granulated sugar
3 cups water

Place the cloudberries in a large saucepan, and pour water over top. Heat to a boil, and then reduce the heat to simmering. Cook for 20 minutes.

Remove the mixture from heat, and line a strainer with cheesecloth. Place the strainer over a heat-resistant bowl, so the liquid will collect in the bowl below. Pour the mixture into the strainer. Do not press the berries to extract more juice - let the liquid run out on its own. Once it is fully strained, set the solid berries aside.

Pour the liquid back into the saucepan, and add your sugar. Bring the mixture back to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil for five minutes, still stirring, until the sugar has completely dissolved. Skim off any foam that rises to the top. Once your syrup is done, remove it from heat and let it cool completely before moving it into a glass jar or bottle. This syrup can be stored in the refrigerator for several weeks - though we doubt it will last that long.