The Nordic landscape is easily recognized by its beautiful cloudy mountains, it’s open spaces, deep dense pine tree forests with fresh and cooling air and clean water. Eatable animals such as lamb, elk, deer roam the wood and everyone can forage for wild berries, fruit and mushrooms, as well as catch fishes of many kinds. All key ingredients in the new Nordic kitchen, which is gaining popularity rapidly due to restaurants such as Noma and some of the best gourmet chefs of the world.
Surprisingly to many, simplicity is one of the main characteristics of the Nordic cuisine. Nordic cooking is based on a lot less ingredients than many other cuisines and on more high-quality ingredients cultivated in the cold and dry Nordic climate, which significantly influences the flavour of each dish.
The unique summers are short, but features long days with a beautiful midnight sun, and hence the very short growing season. This tends to result in a brief explosion of fresh and tasty ingredients such as especially wild berries, delicious fruit and beautiful mushrooms. The long and cozy winters in our special part of the world has made the Scandinavians become experts at preserving food in order to store the summer ingredients.
The berries are what make the cuisine unique. Especially cloudberries, blueberries and buckthorn berries. They can be found in all kinds of dishes and grow wild in the nature, so that everyone can pick them up freely. Their health benefits are many and traces of their use go back all the way to the times of the Vikings who brought cloudberries with them on their journeys to avoid loss of vitamin C.
Cloudberries are the most popular berries in Norway. It’s eaten during Christmas and used all year round for a number of purposes. It is considered THE Norwegian berry and considered a national treasure. Scarce and not easy to propagate, they are not commercially grown. Cloudberries are quite similar to raspberries, but a little bit bigger in size with a sweet/ tart apple flavour. Rich in Vitamin C, they are a natural choice for recipes requiring berries, and have considerable benefits especially for healthy gums and sound teeth. The rich berries and their many health benefits were already discovered by the Vikings and it is still being recognized as one of the most tasty and healthy berries around, but unfortunately it’s also a lot more pricey than any other berry due to the rarity of this wonderful orange treat.
Next to Strawberries, blueberries rank second in popularity of berries worldwide. There are cultivated and wild blueberries to be found, the latter being more tart in flavour. Being very low in calories and plentiful of nutrition it is suggested you have a bowl of raw blueberries once a day. Blueberries have been enjoyed by Native Americans for hundreds of years. In the Nordic countries you find them in the forests, and the Scandinavians have so many great child memories from picking blueberries in the deep pine tree forests.
Buckhorn Berries or Sea Buckhorn has been a source of food and medicine for centuries in China and Russia. The berries are quite tart, sort of like sour orange with a hint of mango. Some people also compare them to pineapple. This small berry offers an impressive combination of nutrients, vitamins and superior health benefits. Believe it or not, it is actually very easy to find buckthorn and collect them yourself. These berries even grow in Copenhagen. In the summer, many Danes can be seen collecting these berries themselves and it has become something of a trend In Denmark. The sea buckthorn berry is a powerful source of Omegas 3, 6, and 9. It’s considered a real super fruit.
When visiting the Nordic countries, one should try tasting some of the delicious berries combined with the Nordic healthy dinner recipes that recently have become so popular all over the world. The Nordic kitchen is here to stay and the restaurant Noma has proved it by being awarded the best restaurant in the world more than three times during the last couple of years.
Which berry is your favorite berry?