Foraging plants in the norwegian mountains – 20. Mountain crowberry Pt. 2

One day, I woke up to find that the male part of the flower which projects an anther over the flower, had been eaten off. I was lucky enough to find other buds I hadn’t noticed before and managed to keep the eating insects away until the stamens shrivelled up of their own accord. This allowed me to complete the picture as I had hoped.

Of course this process was so exciting that it kept me motivated to paint all the tiny leaves!

I used quite a bit of my sketch page information in the final artwork, even the small immature berries I had found when starting to sketch in July 2017 and the trial piece on vellum.

Working out my composition and creating line drawing to trace over.

 When researching more on this plant recently, particularly in relation to its use in food, I discovered that although the berries are edible, apparently there is a potential for the leaves to poison the immediately local environment, making its own habitat more secure; the jury is still out on this question but it is wiser to leave the leaves alone.

But, the berries are fine and because the seeds are quite big and the skin quite tough, it is used mostly for juice, either cooked or raw. Additionally, it is suggested that whilst out walking in the mountains that picking and chewing the fruit is very thirst quenching. I will have to remember that.

Unripe fruit. Actual size 5.3mm

One sketch I didn’t use in the final artwork was this one from my initial drawings. It is very interesting but, in some respects, didn’t give any more information to the final picture. It is an unripe fruit, enlarged (the original fruit was 5.3 mm across), containing the sepals , the remainder of the female flower and the shrivelled stamens. Compare this with the ripe fruit at the beginning of the previous blog where the same parts are also just visible.

The native range of this subspecies is Subarctic to Subalpine Northern Hemisphere including Great Britain and Norway. It is a subshrub and grows primarily in the temperate biome. 

Source: Kew – Plants of the World Online

Having collected enough data and sketches, I started painting the final picture on vellum  August 2021 and finished it January 2022.


Mountain Crowberry jelly

Crowberry contains little pectin. This means that it is difficult, if not impossible, to make Mountain crowberry jelly based only on the berries. To get Mountain Crowberry jelly stiff, mix the berries with other types of berries that are rich in pectin, for example lingonberries. It is also possible to mix with apples, which contain a lot of pectin or gelatine sheets.

3 dl raw mountain crowberry juice (see recipe below)

Juice of a lemon

1-2 dl water

6-7 sheets of gelatine

  1. Soak the gelatine sheets for 5-10 minutes. 
  2. Pour off most of the water and dissolve them in a small amount of warm water. 
  3. Mix the cold Mountain crowberry juice, lemon juice and water. 
  4. Whilst continuously stirring, slowly and carefully pour the juice mixture into the melted gelatine. 
  5. Pour into clean small glasses. 

This is an excellent accompaniment to venison.

 Raw Mountain Crowberry juice

This is a fresh and colourful juice but not very durable, and requires a lot of sugar and a cold storage place. It is easier to freeze the juice in small portions and thawed when needed.

 1 kg Mountain Crowberries – or the amount picked.

5 dl boiled and cooled water – equivalent 1:2 of berries

10 grams of citric acid – 25-30 gm per litre raw juice.

750 grams of sugar per litre of raw juice

  1. Rinse and crush the berries well. 
  2. Put the berry pulp in a large bowl or bucket, and add pre-boiled, cold water and citric acid. 
  3. Leave the mixture covered and chilled overnight.
  4. Pour the mass into a strainer and let the juice drain well. 
  5. Measure the amount of juice and add sugar. 
  6. Stir well until all the sugar has dissolved. 
  7. Skim and pour it into clean bottles/containers.

Can be mixed to taste with water – or something else. 

The next blog will be 28 May 2023

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