Cloudberries are considered the best wild berries in all of Norway, and these incredible berries grow in marshes during the early autumn. You often find cloudberries in Norway while hiking high up in the mountains, and good spots for harvesting them are considered family secrets by many.
You are free to pick and harvest cloudberries as you please in Norway, with a small exception in Northern Norway where you must eat the berries where you find them. They are popular with hikers who bring buckets with them to collect cloudberries on their hikes, either for eating directly or to be used in cooking.
Many tourists are a bit confused by the cloudberries, because there are lots of myths and misconceptions about them and what you are allowed to do.
So, let’s take a close look at the cloudberries, from where to find them, how to use them, what they taste like, and what you are legally allowed to do when harvesting cloudberries in Norway.
What cloudberries are used for
Cloudberries can be eaten as they are, and will have a smooth and creamy taste. You can use the berries in many different recipes, and they are primarily used for different types of desserts.
One of the most common things to make with cloudberries are a dessert known as cloudberry cream (multekrem in Norwegian). This is a classic dessert that is often served as part of the Christmas desserts. The basis for this recipe is to add sugar and cream, mix it all together and enjoy.
It’s also possible to make a jam out of the cloudberries, which makes for a very tasty spread on a piece of bread.
The cloudberries are not supposed to be neither bitter nor sharp in their taste. In these cases, the berry us a bit unripe, and was harvested too early.
Where to find cloudberries
You will primarily find cloudberries in bogs, mashes and swamps all over Norway.
In the southern half, you will want to get up to a certain altitude, and you will find that they are much more common in mountain bogs than down in the lowlands.
If you’re looking for cloudberries anywhere south of Trondheim, try going above the tree limit to increase your chances of finding them.
Once you’re in Northern Norway, cloudberries will grow in bogs, mires and other watery areas even down in the lowlands. This makes them a lot easier to access than in the south where you need to go on a mountain hike to even get to them.
When you are in an area with the potential for cloudberries, look down! Remember that the plant is only around 5 – 8 centimeters tall, so it will be at your feet.
You are allowed to pick cloudberries wherever you want!
The Norwegian freedom to roam principle allows for anyone to pick as many cloudberries as they desire. If you find cloudberries in nature, pick it if you want to. Bring it back home, eat it, or just save it. It’s really up to you.
The freedom to pick berries in Norway only applies to what we call “utmark“, which is any land with no settlement. So don’t pick cloudberries very close to someone’s cabins or houses.
Special rules for picking cloudberries in the counties Nordland, and Troms og Finnmark
As with all rules and regulations, there are a few exceptions. This is also true when it comes to picking cloudberries.
The only exception you need to care about when picking clousberries in Norway is when you are in either Nordland or Troms og Finnmark counties. These have exempts from the law under certain conditions.
If you are in either of these counties, you cannot harvest cloudberries and bring them with you if there is a clear sign that says that the cloudberries are private property.
You are still legally allowed to harvest them and eat them on location, but it would be illegal to bring them back to where you are staying or even away from where you harvested them.
And if there’s no sign, you are free to harvest as many as you want, and do what you want with them.
When to harvest cloudberries in Norway
The main cloudberry season is between August 1 and September 30, but it will vary year by year, and between different areas and regions.
Some years will have early cloudberries that begin being ripe in early July, while other years won’t have them ready until a few weeks into August.
It’s actually a bit difficult to be sure of the exact season, and you often find that you need to actually visit a particular spot to see how the cloudberries are doing before you can be able to tell when they are going to be ready for that particular year and area.
And a general rule of thumb is that the season begins earlier in southern Norway compared to far north. That said, August and September are the main cloudberry harvesting months.
Make sure the cloudberries are ripe!
I see too many tourists with buckets full of unripe cloudberries, and it really breaks my heart. Unripe cloudberries does not even taste good, and most people agree that you should not harvest them before they are ripe.
Not only are you ruining the berry season by harvesting unripe berries, but you could also be ruining next year’s season. This is because the plant get damaged if you pick unripe cloudberries, and it will not produce new berries next year.
So please just leave unripe cloudberries if you see them. You are wasting public resources if you decide to do so.
How to tell if a cloudberry is ripe
It’s actually pretty easy to tell if a cloudberry is ripe or not.
Ripe cloudberries are orange, and does not have any plant parts covering the berries.
Unripe cloudberries are red or orange with red patches, and have a plant cover that covers part of the berry. You can easily see this on the unripe berry on the photo below where the plant cover covers about half of the red cloudberry.
Is it really illegal to pick unripe cloudberries?
You might come across information about it being illegal to pick unripe cloudberries on the Internet, but this is no longer the case. It was in fact illegal to harvest unripe cloudberries between 1970 and 2004, but the law was abolished.
This means that you are now legally allowed to pick unripe cloudberries in Norway.
Read full article: It is really illegal to pick unripe cloudberries in Norway?
With that said, you really should not be picking the unripe cloudberries, even though it’s no longer illegal. Most people consider this to be a pretty douchebag move, and you might actually get yourself some new enemies if you get spotted picking unripe cloudberries in the Norwegian mountains.
Nicklas is the owner and editor of The Norway Guide, and is responsible for most of the content on the website.
He lives in Skien, Norway with his wife and two children. Nicklas is specialized in Norwegian ecology (including Norway’s geology, wildlife and flora) from his degree in Ecology And Nature Management at University of South-Eastern Norway, but has a particular interest in tourism and content creation.
His biggest hobbies are fishkeeping, going on hikes with his dog, and rooting for the local football team.