(Latin Rubus chamaemorus
") is quite possibly
the most expensive berry
in the world, clocking in at around €15/l
even in Finland during the harvesting season. It has an unmistakable but
, and a very pretty appearance
pin-sized orange globules
packed into a raspberry
And then there's that name: whoever came up with it must have been a
genius! The traditional names -- Finnish lakka
, Norwegian multe
-- sound so much less sexy, and the other
English name, bakeapple
, is just plain bizarre.
The reason the cloudberry has yet to take the world by storm is that
the habitat it likes is quite different for those preferred by humans.
Cloudberries are found (in quantity) only in northern Finland,
Sweden, Norway, Canada and Russia, although odd specimens
have been located as far south as New Hampshire, USA.
Efforts to cultivate the berry
have been mostly unsuccessful, as it seems to like only authentic arctic
bogs and demands a precise range of temperatures to flower. So precise,
in fact, that the yearly harvest depends greatly on weather conditions:
a single storm or late frost can knock out half the crop, and on
average there is a bumper crop only once every ten years.
Unlike its cousins the raspberry and the blackberry, cloudberries
are not big bushes, but tiny plants seldom exceeding 3 inches in
height. Each plant has
at most one flower, and of these flowers only female ones turn into
berries; the sex ratio is usually around 3:1 in favor of males.
This means that the average yield is only around 20 kilograms per
Given all that, the only way to harvest cloudberries is pull on
your Nokia-brand rubber boots and traipse into the marshes for
a day of back-breaking
manual labor, battling hordes of Lapland's legendary mosquitos and
your competitors. Due to the high prices fetched by the berry,
these days much harvesting is done by Russian migrants who come
to Lapland for the summer and earn a year or two's wages by picking
I, and I suspect most Finns would agree with me, like my cloudberries best
freshly picked. Cloudberries and vanilla ice cream are a classic
combination, and you can buy cloudberry-flavored yogurt all year
around. A traditional Sami dessert is to mash cloudberries into
reindeer milk, but unfortunately(?) reindeer milk is not something
you'll find on a supermarket shelf even in Finland.
Still, for most foreign palates raw cloudberries are a bit too
sour, and many also find the large seeds inside a bit offputting.
(Hint: the easiest way to deal with them is to ignore them, they
won't break your teeth and they don't taste like much.) So the
usual solution is to boil them and add sugar to make a jam; you
can find a simple recipe under bakeapple (another name for this
fine fruit). This jam can then be further reprosessed into
nearly anything, including but not limited to:
- cloudberry liquor
- quite possibly the most popular Finnish souvenir; the
stuff is insanely sweet though, so the Finns themselves never drink it
- cloudberry ice cream
- cloudberry juice
- cloudberry jelly
- cloudberry chocolate
- cloudberry marmalade
- cloudberry pastries
You get the idea. Cloudberry jam goes particularly well with
s, Finns like to couple it with an oven-cooked type
And there's more: cloudberries are a great source of Vitamin A
(30 μg/100g) and C (50-150mg/100g), or 10x and 4x more
than orange respectively. As far back as the 1600s, Nordic
sailors used to take barrels of cloudberry jam along to prevent
scurvy. (Sure beats using sauerkraut if you ask me!)
Cloudberry leaves have also been used as cough medicine in
Russia, where they were used to brew tea.
Random Cloudberry Trivia
- Cloudberries are the largest plant on the territory
of Svalbard, located at 80°N.
- Finland's 2-euro coin features cloudberries.
There is also a GPS-based vehicle tracking system called Cloudberry,
and a Swedish pop band called Cloudberry Jam.
http://www.yrttitarha.com/kanta/lakka/ (in Finnish)