Tag archives for berries
After what has felt like just weeks of cold, rainy weather, the sun is finally shining again. Perfect timing! It’s way nicer to go blackberry picking in the sunshine than in the rain.
One thing that blew my mind the first couple of times I came to visit Sweden was how closely linked urban and natural environments are. I don’t live in the biggest of cities, but for Sweden, it’s a pretty respectable size, and the university is one cause of massive residential sprawl. Regardless, I can pretty much guarantee that from any point within Lund, you are within five minutes walking distance of nature at all times. That’s pretty impressive.
Accordingly, Swedish people (in general) tend to have a much more meaningful relationship with nature than most of the Americans I grew up with—and it’s not just the older generation. People my age, in their twenties, have grown up picking berries, hunting mushrooms in the forest, and making cordial from flowers and leaves cut from bushes. I’m sure there are people in the US who do this, but certainly not to the extent that I see it here.
I was pretty skeptical of this whole “walk around and pick stuff off the plants” thing when I first moved here, but a year in and I’m totally enchanted. I feel like I’ve spent the whole summer examining the trees and bushes in my neighborhood. Is this edible? Is this? Is this?
The fascination could be a little dangerous, of course, but I’m not putting anything in my mouth unless I’m completely sure it’s safe. There are so many varieties of fruit and berries here that I’ve never seen before—and so many nuts that I would never recognize on the tree—that it seems like just about everything has the possibility of becoming food.
For the last couple of days, the warm weather has prompted some serious blackberry picking, some apple scouting, and a long, meandering walk through Lund’s two biggest parks. Fingers crossed that the weather is terrible all next week and then clears up just in time for the weekend—we’ve got mushroom hunting plans, and I
want everyone else to be discouraged from walking through the forest until we get there want the rain to help the mushrooms grow… ahem…
The blueberry season (or bilberry, to be exact) in Sweden is exceptionally good. In most parts of the country the forests are full of berries. According to some calculations around 500 000 tons of wild berries, such as blueberries, cloudberries and lingonberries, ripens in the Swedish forests every year. Most of them are eaten by wild animals or just rot. Only around seven percent are being picked, which is a pity considering that they are delicious, containing antioxidants, grown in an absolutely organic way – and totally free.
After spending the Sunday afternoon in the forest (with a really nice break at a nearby beach) my fingers are blue and my kitchen table filled with jars of blueberry jam. My goal this year is to become self-supporting on jam until next summer comes. The only disadvantage is the back protesting against bending down over low blueberry sprigs, and itchy rashes from stubborn mosquitos. But when winter comes it’s definitely worth it, being able to taste this blue concentrate of summer.