The Finnish have been keeping a sweet little secret from the rest of the world, and they're called cloudberries, aka lakka berries. These little wild berries look vaguely similar to a small raspberry when underripe, turning a peachy white colour as they become ready to be picked.
Cloudberries are found in the wetlands, in Arctic climates. But even if you are lucky to come across a field of them on a foraging trip, just one single berry hangs on to a single stem. They're special, and the locals know it.
What do cloudberries taste like?
Most fruits darken in colour as they ripen, but in the case of cloudberries, the opposite occurs. These berries begin a crimson pink and turn peachy white in colour. Cloudberries have a bittersweet, creamy taste, its creaminess increasing as they ripen.
Where can you find cloudberries?
Cloudberries prefer the cool climate regions and grow wild in the Nordic countries, Baltic states and in Poland. They can also be found in Japan, Russia, and some parts of North America.
In places like Sweden, Finland and Norway they are considered a delicacy, and locals are downright obsessed with them. Cloudberries appear only for a short period of the year in July. For those in Northern Europe, this is just as the cold winter ends and summer peeks through the grey skies, and the arrival of cloudberries is a sign of warmer days to come.
How to use cloudberries
Cloudberries aren't cultivated, but foraged, meaning that typically they are available in smaller quantities, locally. If you can get your hands on these special berries, eat them raw to enjoy the creamy, sweet flavour at its best.
To cook with cloudberries, treat them like raspberries or blackberries in jams, sauces, and desserts. Because of the rarity of these berries, if you don't live near the cloudberry climate areas your cloudberry experience may be limited to the pre-packaged jams and cordials sold at specialty food stores.
Anyone up for a Lakka Collins? Another popular preparation of cloudberries is in the form of a sweet liqueur, simply referred to as Lakka. A few Finnish companies produce the liqueur by macerating the wild orange berries in a neutral spirit, then honey, spices such as cinnamon or cloves are added at the end of the process. Lakka liqueur is bittersweet and aromatic, making for an interesting base for cocktails or a festive holiday drink.
Surely we've got you excited for a foraging trip in Sweden or Finland next July. In the meantime, here's some inspiration on social media.