The sweet taste of Norway
Why we think our fruit and berries are the best in the world.
Just imagine: The scent of thousands of blossoming fruit trees …
… the juicy taste of a crisp apple …
… and the wonderful smell of a freshly picked raspberry.
Hundreds of orchards and farms make Norway one big bowl of delicious fruit and berries, including everything from apples, pears, and plums, to blackcurrant, strawberries, and cherries.
And the taste is in a league of its own.
Long, bright days, relatively low temperatures, and a mostly unpolluted climate make ideal conditions for fruit and berries to develop over time.
"Due to the longer ripening period, Norwegian fruit and berries tend to have more acid, taste and concentration", says the award-winning pastry chef Sverre Sætre.
And if there is one person in Norway with next-level knowledge about fruit and berries, Sætre is the one. The chef and patissier, who has won several medals with the Norwegian national chef team and runs a patisserie in Oslo, has written several books on the topic.
During his 20-year long career, Sætre has worked with some of the best patisseries, including the French Ladurée, which is the pastry world’s answer to Gucci.
His mission has always been to share the high-quality Norwegian ingredients with the rest of the culinary world.
“Some of our ingredients are simply world-class, and Norwegian fruit and berries, like apples and plums, are examples of that.”
Norwegians have kept orchards since Vikings grew apples, but it was when the monks came to Norway around the 13th century, that the tradition really took root.
… and the strawberry village Valldal, known for cultivating Norway’s (and many would even claim the world’s) best strawberries!
Farms and producers throughout the country invite visitors to learn about and take part in their fruit production.
Join a course or a guided tour, participate in cider or beer tasting, walk along picturesque fruit trails, or buy a jar of jam to take home.
Many orchards offer “selvplukk”, which means that you can pick your own fruit. Yum!
Some places, you’ll also come across small roadside stalls where you can buy freshly-harvested delicacies to go.
A proud food destination
“There is a lot of exciting things happening in the Norwegian food scene”, Sætre says.
“More and more people are concerned with where and how the ingredients are grown. We want our food to be ecological and locally sourced, and it’s become a trend to use more of what we already have.”
As more and more restaurants get stars in the Michelin guide, and with wins and awards in prestigious cooking competitions, Norway has positioned itself on the global food map.
“Masters from well-establish food destinations like Spain, Italy, and France now look towards the north and ask themselves: What’s the secret behind their wonderful apples? What is it with the fermentation techniques they use? They reach out for knowledge and inspiration and are now using and experimenting with our ingredients and methods”, Sætre says.
“It’s been this way with Norwegian fish for centuries, but now it’s starting to happen with fruit and berries as well.”
Small-scale producers are popping up all over the country, and the level of knowledge and professionalism is higher than ever. According to Sætre, this is one of the main success factors.
“Without skilled farmers who know exactly how to grow and when to pick the ingredients, chefs like myself don’t have a chance to succeed.”
Taste the seasons
Like the other Nordic countries, Norway is blessed with four distinct seasons – all offering different flavours and ingredients.
Summer and autumn is the harvesting season and the time of the year to revel in bright red, blue, and orange treats from nature’s own pantry. Between May and October, the forests are brimming with fresh, wild berries, and picking them is a popular activity for Norwegians.
Many locals also take pride in cooking what they harvest themselves.
Late spring and summer is the high season for specialities such as rhubarb soup, cherry pie, and strawberries with sugar and cream, while autumn is the prime time for apple cake, cloudberry cream, and game with lingonberry jam.
Drying, pickling, fermenting, and freezing are only a few common ways of conserving ingredients so that they can be enjoyed all year round.
Explore some of Norway’s leading fruit districts
Top places to experience Norwegian fruit and berries.
1. The Hardangerfjord region
The Hardangerfjord region in Fjord Norway accounts for 40 per cent of all fruit production in Norway, including apples, sweet cherries, pears, and plums. The region is known as Norway’s epicentre of handcrafted ciders, and the branding “Hardanger cider” is a geographically protected denomination. Today, more than 50 fruit farmers are members of the cider guild of Hardanger. Cruise the Sørfjord with the Cider boat or taste your way through the scenic Fruit and Cider Route in Ulvik. The sight of Hardanger in May, when 600,000 fruit trees are in full blossom, can hardly be described in words.
The mild climate in Ryfylke in Fjord Norway makes the perfect conditions for growing apples, pears, plums, sweet cherries and strawberries. And several farms in the area have been growing fruit for generations.
Taste award-winning apple juices, join guided tours of the fruit farms, and of course sample quality-products from the many farm shops.
3. The fruit village Gvarv in Telemark
Thousands of trees make up the fruit village Garv in Telemark, known as Norway’s capital of apple production. They deliver an astonishing 3,000 tons of apples and 1,000 tons of plums and cherries each year. The village consists of several fruit farms that offer various experiences, including the brewery Lindheim Ølkompani, known for their delicious sour beer, and Lerkekåsa Vineyard, the world’s northernmost vineyard – where you can spend the night in a wine barrel.
Several of the fruit farms in Gvarv are awarded for their sweet, fresh and sour apple juices, and “Telemark apples” is a geographically protected denomination. In September each year, the village hosts the Norwegian Apple Festival, which is a celebration of the harvesting season with local food, art, song, and dance.
4. The strawberry village Valldal
Deeply red and incredibly sweet and tasty: Try Norwegian strawberries, and “strawberries” will never be the same again. The village Valldal in Fjord Norway has cultivated strawberries for more than a hundred years, and along the river Valdøla, strawberry farms lie like pearls on a string. Despite the northern latitude, Valldal has a mild climate that provides ideal conditions for producing this highly valued berry, as well as cherries, apples, and raspberries.
At the restaurant Jordbærstua, which is a natural stop along the way between Geiranger and Åndalsnes, you can try several dishes in which strawberries are the main ingredients. Their famous strawberry cake has even made its way into Lonely Planet’s guidebook!
5. The Sognefjord area
The traditional district of Sogn, situated in the middle of Fjord Norway, is one of the oldest fruit regions in Norway. The area is known for its handcrafted cider companies, including award-winning Balholm, as well as for its large number of fruit farms that produce everything strawberries and raspberries to plums and cherries. “Sogn Fruit Route” is a network of local providers that offer different types of fruit experiences. Spend the night in the middle of an orchard, visit a vineyard, go strawberry picking, or enjoy a glass of fresh fruit brandy with a fjord view. The fruit tradition in Sogn is primarily represented in the municipalities Balestrand, Vik, Leikanger, Sogndal, Luster, and Lærdal.
6. The Oslofjord region
Thirty-four per cent of Norway’s total production of fruit and berries take place in the Oslofjord region. Here, you’ll find a large number of fruit farms, often placed in the middle of a picturesque cultural landscape, that cultivate everything from apples, pears, and plums, to cherries, strawberries, and raspberries. Several farms offer guided tours and have farm shops where you can find jams, juices, and other tasteful souvenirs to bring home.
There are several more tastes to challenge your pallets.
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