A guide to berry picking on tour in Scandinavia

Scandinavian summers are magic. With their long, bright days and midnight sun you have the amazing opportunity to experience Nordic nature at it’s best. What would it taste like if you could bottle some of that magic?

Take a Hike: The Berries of Scandinavia

Scandinavian summers are magic. With their long, bright days and midnight sun you have the amazing opportunity to experience Nordic nature at it’s best. What would it taste like if you could bottle some of that magic?

To me, the taste of Scandinavian summer is found in the abundant wild, seasonal berries. They ripen throughout early summer till late autumn and are an important part of Nordic cuisine. Best eaten fresh straight off the bush - but also lovely as jams, jellies, cordial, juice, pies and cakes- or my favourite: sprinkled on top of freshly made waffles.

One of the greatest joys of hiking in Nordic forest and bush-land during the summer-months is without doubt the berry-picking. Like most Scandinavians I’ve enjoyed it since I could barely walk. It's a wonderful way of fuelling long hikes whether you’re going at it hard and fast, or slow and leisurely.

Picking Berries

Here’s everything you need to know about the delicious berries of Scandinavia:

Wild Strawberries
Season: early June till July

Wild strawberries are tiny but incredibly sweet and flavourful. You’ll be lucky if they last till the end of your hike - these are like nature’s own lollies! In Norway we serve them crushed/ stirred as a sugar-free alternative to traditional jam. It’s amazing topped on anything from buttered toast to pancakes and waffles. Another summer dessert-favourite is simply wild strawberries topped with a dash of cream.

Season: Mid-July till August

Unlike the oversized store-bought, pale-fleshed blueberries we get at the supermarket; Scandinavian blueberries are small and deep purple all the way through. Their low-growing bushes cover entire forest floors during summer. Eager locals get in early to fill their buckets with fresh berries, ready to freeze them for later in the year. Wild Nordic blueberries are tart but more flavourful; they taste absolutely amazing topped with cream and a sprinkle of sugar. They’re also beautiful in a pie or a berry-crumble. Wild blueberries pack a serious antioxidant-punch too; eat till your heart's content.

Season: Mid-July till August

It’s not unusual for us to find wild raspberry-bushes next to a bus-stop or on the side of a quiet residential street. It’s always a pleasant surprise; wild raspberries are tasty although slightly less sweet and smaller than their farmed, store-bought relatives. My kids all love them and eat them up on the spot. These are commonly found growing on the edges of forests and fields.

Season: Late July till September

If you’ve been to IKEA you’re probably familiar with their meatballs and side of lingonberry-jam. Lingonberries are quite sour and the jam is made with large amounts of sugar to make it more palatable. In Scandinavia you’ll find the homemade jam-varieties are less sweet. Lingonberry-jam offers an amazing balance to rich red-meat dishes such as meatballs, venison-roasts and meatloaf. Don’t knock it till you try!

Season: Late July till September

Gooseberries tastes similar to kiwi-fruit and look like a small, somewhat hairy grape. They commonly grow in Scandinavian gardens as the bush does well in cooler climates. They might not grow abundantly in the wild but if you see them at a local grocer or on a cafe-menu, give them a go. Gooseberries have a grape-y, floral-like flavour, and taste best when ripe.

Berries of Scandinavia

Hand made Jams at Brimi Seter, Lom and dessert at Sorre Hemsing Farm, Norway.Visit these farms on one of our Nordic Farm Holidays.

Black/ Red currants
Season: Late July till September

Black- and red currants can be quite sour but really makes a dessert, pie, cake or jelly “pop” with their refreshing fruitiness and flavour. Commonly used as a base in both home-made and store-bought cordial-mixes In Scandinavia, currants remind me of the picnics, warm toddies and long summer-nights of childhood. They commonly grow in gardens but you can also find them in the wild in and around residential areas.

Season: August till September

Cloudberries look like small orange raspberries, and are often called “Mountain Gold” due to their golden skin and expensive price-tag. They grow in mountainous areas spanning from from mid-Norway/ Sweden/ Finland all the way up north towards the Arctic. They are notoriously fussy and a good cloudberry season depends on many, many factors. A typical Norwegian Christmas-dessert is cloudberry whipped cream piped into “krumkaker”; a light, crisp waffle shaped into a cone. Cloudberries are considered a Norwegian delicacy, and if you are lucky enough to come across them during a hike or trek, make sure you try them for yourself.

Cloudberries in Norway

Cloudberry picking in Sommarøy, 50 Degrees North Director, Tietse Stelma picking behind his son's hand.

Check out our Norway tours here or our Finnish countryside tours here.

Image Credits: Tina Stafrèn/Visitnorway.com, Raimo Voutilainen & Riitta Weijola.