From her house, author Kirsten Winge can walk right into the middle of the deep, quiet forests of Hedmark to harvest the best from nature.
She is a biologist who a long time ago decided to quit her job as a scientist and explore nature instead. Kirsten Winge moved to a place by Lake Osensjøen, one of the most peaceful parts of Hedmark in Eastern Norway.
“It’s quiet here, but you can keep yourself quite busy if you like to taste local ingredients directly from nature. It’s difficult to imagine a more sustainable activity. Nowhere else have I discovered such huge amounts of wild berries, fruits, mushrooms, spices, and other natural ingredients, in addition to the game my husband and I are able to hunt”, Kirsten says.
Her deep interest for real-life biology has resulted in the successful books Det smaker av høst (The tastes of autumn) and Den store høsteboka (The big harvesting book), amongst many other projects that have made her a nationwide authority when it comes to harvesting the natural way.
“To me, harvesting is based on an eternal perspective.”
Kirsten’s writings about local ingredients and the natural tastes of autumn got a kickstart when she met a hunter more than 20 years ago. Arne Nohr is still her husband and the couple is spending their days in the wilderness harvesting from nature on all levels.
“To me, harvesting of everything from berries to game is based on an eternal perspective. I make sure that the quantity I take with me from the forest has not deprived me of the opportunity to do the same next year. One should never become greedy”, Kirsten says.
Deer can occasionally be seen outside her kitchen window, and moose is everywhere. But statistically more deer are trapped here each autumn. A rich variety of game also includes grouse, black grouse, and the rarer hazel grouse.
One of her favourite meals is roast beef of moose, a three-course dinner prepared in an outdoor cooking pit, totally without electricity.
Kirsten keeps a well-developed vegetable garden, but her real garden is the immense nature.
“Hedmark has everything we need, and we think more people should come and make use of the ingredients that you can harvest yourself when you go hiking. Respect for the animals and nature is essential.”
Last autumn Kirsten and her husband harvested 60 kilos of cloudberries without too much effort. “Before moving out here I usually hiked about 10 kilometres to collect one single kilo, which I, at the time, thought was worth the effort”, she adds.
Kirsten has fond memories of her childhood in Trøndelag, where she grew up harvesting in the forests with her then retired grandparents, who moved into their cabin for the whole summer and autumn seasons.
“Fruit and berries in Norway have remarkable growth conditions as they are exposed to a lot of sunlight during long summer and early autumn days before they are harvested. I believe our fruit and berries contain more sweetness than in other countries. They also have a thinner peel”, Kirsten explains.
Kirsten mentions a bunch of types of berries you can find in Hedmark, like raspberries, lingonberries, blueberries, and cloudberries. “And wild strawberries are often possible to find and pick later in the summer here than in other parts of the country”, she says.
“Several kinds of berries can be found and harvested through the whole season of autumn, up to the day when the first snow covers them.”
The Norwegian word for autumn – “høst” – means “harvest”.
September, October, and November are the traditional autumn months in Norway.
Summer temperatures can last well into September and the snow can start falling as early as October.
In meteorological terms, autumn is the time of the year when the average daily temperature falls between 0 and 10 degrees Celsius.
Using this definition, Oslo has 60 days of autumn and Tromsø has 66, according to the Great Norwegian Encyclopedia.
Another way to mark the start of autumn is the autumnal equinox on 22 or 23 September.
In Norway, the chances of seeing the northern lights increases as the nights get longer.
North of the Arctic Circle the polar night sets – at the beginning of November in the northernmost regions. During the polar night, the sun doesn’t rise above the horizon for several months.
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