Once upon a time…
As a child growing up in Scandinavia, you knew that it was a very special day indeed when you got served a little bowl of beautiful, sweet berries the colour of a golden-yellow sunset.
…there was sunshine...in a jar?
Cloudberries are picked at the end of the short Arctic summer, when the days have no beginning and no end because the sun never dips below the horizon. The berries are carefully preserved and may be saved up to sit on top of a birthday cake, or sometimes served with cream for the grand finale of a Christmas lunch.
Our grandmothers would also magic the berries into jam to be given as a gift to someone who could do with a little bit of sunshine in a jar.
Small but though
The cloudberry plant survives seemingly endless freezing winters with temperatures down to minus 40.
When the spring finally does arrive, they need a week or two of still, dry weather and sunshine to flower and encourage pollinators, resulting in fruits that start off red and ripen to golden nuggets of delicate flavour.
The stuff of legends
Steeped in tradition and difficult to find, the cloudberry is one of the most treasured treats that the Arctic wilderness has to offer.
The berries have had a mythical reputation since the first humans found them as they wandered towards the frozen north more than ten thousand years ago. Generation after generation of Vikings and indigenous people used cloudberries as folk medicine to fight off scurvy in the long winter months, and the small but potent berries were also said to ‘cool and cleanse’ the blood.
Due to the very high levels of vitamin C and antioxidant ellagic acid, cloudberries are still highly valued.
They are also some of the most expensive berries in the world, earning them the nickname ‘Northern Gold’.
A foraged favourite
To this day, most cloudberries are still foraged from the wild, as they are hard to cultivate and very particular about their growing conditions.
They can only be found in areas with a cooler climate, like in the north of Norway, Sweden and Finland, where they tend to prefer a high altitude, and then only across certain mountainous regions with the perfect acidic soil and no pollution.
Beware of bears!
Even if you should find yourself wandering through the Arctic tundra at the right time of year and at an altitude above 1,400 metres, there is no guarantee that you will come across the treasured yellow and orange berries.
Asking a local about where the berries may be found will get you nowhere, as the best cloudberry picking sites are kept secret and passed down through families. It is said that a good way to prevent people from discovering a treasured cloudberry patch, is to spread rumours that wild bears are roaming the area!
A little piece of Nordic magic from me to you, with love.
These are some of the thoughts I have had while working towards creating the very best shampoo bar for the UK market in 2022.
It is lovingly formulated with skincare-grade ingredients like precious cloudberries, so that you too can experience some Nordic magic and luxury beauty for yourself.