Cloudberries grow naturally in alpine and arctic regions and are in great demand as a delicacy in the nordic region, however they are not worldwide known, let alone eaten. But those who are in the know, are great fans of this little special berry!
Primarily found in the wild, cloudberries are on the endangered species list and quite pricey for berries. These red and amber delights, sometimes referred to as ‘forest gold’, are quite special in taste which is distinctively tart, fresh and acidic, but still naturally sweet. Their texture is soft and juicy and they are very rich in vitamin C; even a small amount of these berries is enough for a person’s daily requirement.
Sometimes referred to as yellowberry, salmonberry or bakeapple, cloudberries (rubus chamaemorus in Latin) grow in boggy areas of Arctic and subarctic regions, appearing for just a few weeks in the summertime. Starting out white and turning red, pickers know they’re fully ripe when the berry reaches a golden colour.
Prevalent throughout Scandinavia—where they are highly prized—cloudberries can also be found in the upper reaches of Britain and Ireland, the Baltic states, northern Russia, Canada and Alaska. Generally, they only grow in the wild and need to be foraged, though efforts are being made to cultivate them commercially.
Scandinavian chefs have long used cloudberries in different recipes, notably desserts, and artisan producers make cloudberry jam and sauce. Famed restaurant Noma in Copenhagen even has created a fantastical cloudberry inspired dessert called ‘Snowman’: A meringue and cloudberry sorbet snowman in a landscape comprised of wild thyme, cloudberry compote and crumbled meringue finished with sprayed yoghurt snow.
Emma Bengtsson, executive chef of New York City’s Aquavit, loves to use cloudberries in her restaurant and makes purées, jams, sauces or ice creams from the fruit. She confirms that the berry is a virtual unknown in the US but get a lot of positive response from guests who are being exposed to them for the first time. “It’s fun to educate and open people’s minds up,” says Bengtsson.
Another US chef, George Mendes of Aldea in New York, is a cloudberry enthousiast since first tasting the fruit Noma and while visiting food festivals throughout the Nordic region. He uses a cloudberry jam as a glaze on salt baked Badger Flame beets which are served with seared scallops. “The jam contributes a citrusy note,” he says, “and adds a tartness, like a lemon or a lime.”