- Low-bush Salmonberry
Cloudberry (scientific name Rubus chamaemorus) is an herb with a root-like horizontal subterranean stem. This herb has its origin in the cool temperate regions such as the Arctic Tundra, alpine and boreal forest. The fruits of cloudberry are edible and have an amber color. Their size is almost the same as blackberry or raspberry. However, different from majority of species in genus Rubus, cloudberry plants are dioecious in nature. In order to produce fruits, the female plant of this species needs to be pollinated by a male plant.
The cloudberry plant is a small herb growing up to a height of just anything between 10 cm and 25 cm (4 inches and 10 inches). This plant produces alternate leaves that have 5 to seven lobes similar in appearance to the human hand on erect stalks that are branchless. Each cloudberry fruit comprises about 5 to 25 drupelets. In the beginning the fruits have a pale red hue, which changes to an amber color when they ripen in early autumn. In fact, cloudberry fruits growing in the wild are valued highly and those from the Arctic region are preferred by many.
The leaves of cloudberry (Rubus chamaemorus) are used to prepare an herbal tea. In ancient times, it was used in Scandinavian herbal medicine to treat infections of the urinary tract. Cloudberries are also employed to treat diseases associated with vitamin deficiency. These fruits are said to be effective in dealing with hypo-vitaminosis C.
Cloudberries have a rich content of vitamin A and vitamin C, making them very useful for the health of our immune system. This is primarily because vitamin C works to promote white blood cell (leukocytes), in addition to working as a potent antioxidant that helps to counteract the damaging free radicals inside our body. Similarly, vitamin A contains carotenoids, which also work as antioxidants, thereby preventing the aging and breakdown of our skin and eyes.
Aside from the above mentioned vitamins, these fruits are loaded with iron and several other essential minerals. The high iron content of cloudberries is significant, as it not only promotes blood circulation, but also production of red blood cells (erythrocytes). People who take adequate iron through their diet are unlikely to suffer from anemia.
While the majority of fruits do not contain omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, cloudberries are rich in these nutrients, making them a unique fruit. Cloudberries also contain high density lipoprotein (HDL) or “good cholesterol”, which helps to maintain right balance of cholesterol in our body. At the same time, consumption of this fruit helps to lessen the chances of damage to the cardiovascular system.
Since long, cloudberries have been employed in the form of a diuretic with a view to promote urination. When the urination is normal, it helps to rid our body of toxins and, at the same time, flush out surplus water, salts as well as fats. In this way, consumption of cloudberries helps to reduce the burden on the liver as well as the kidneys.
Apart from their high vitamin C content, cloudberries also enclose specific carotenoids and phytosterols. In addition, ellagic acid contained by this fruit has a potent effect on our body. It has been found that ellagic acid is useful in lessening the incidences of cancer, inhibiting the natural aging process, reducing the chances of developing chronic ailments and inhibiting wrinkles on the skin. Moreover, cloudberries also enclose certain chemical compounds, which possess antibacterial and antiviral properties. All these attributes of this unique Arctic fruit make cloudberries a complete health fruit.
Cloudberries contain significant amounts of dietary fiber, which makes this fruit perfect for keeping the digestive system in optimal health. Dietary fiber works to promote peristaltic movement in the intestines, thereby alleviating bloating, constipation, cramping as well as several other severe conditions related to the digestive tract, for instance development of gastric ulcers and even cancer. In addition, dietary fiber is effective in controlling the insulin receptors in our body, thereby making sure that the right amount of sugar is released into the blood stream. This effect of dietary fiber not only helps to deal with type 2 diabetes, but also prevent the disease. Cloudberries contain polyphenols that are useful in preventing the development of pathogens in the gastro-intestinal (GI) tract.
The vital compounds present in cloudberries are rightly balanced, making the fruit a balanced source of important nutrients for our body. These compounds offer us several health benefits, including proper skin care. In addition, the active constituents extracted from this fruit possess bioactive properties, including defence against the consequences of stress, ultra-violet (UV) radiation and even environmental pollution.
Vitamin E, carotenoid and phytosterols present in cloudberries are effective in combating the skin’s natural aging process. These fruits contain elevated levels of vitamin C and benzoic acid that helps to preserve cosmetic products. The oil extracted from cloudberry fruit seeds is also useful. It is employed in cosmetic production.
Completely ripened cloudberries have a golden-yellow color and they are very soft and succulent. The ripened fruits contain elevated levels of vitamin C. If you consume the ripened fresh cloudberries, you will find them having a typical tart flavour. The texture of the over-ripe fruits is creamy, something similar to yogurt and has a sweet taste. Usually, people use the over-ripened fruits to make juices, jams, tarts and even liqueurs. People in Sweden use cloudberries and jams prepared from this fruit in the form of a topping for waffles, pancakes and ice cream. On the other hand, people in Norway usually mix the ripened fruit with sugar and whipped cream and serve it in the form of a desert locally known as “Multekrem” (cloudberry cream). Alternatively, they also use the fruits to make jam or in the form of an ingredient in ice creams made at home. In Norway, supermarkets sell cloudberry yoghurt.
In Canada’s Labrador and Newfoundland, people use cloudberries to make jam or “bakeapple pie”. In the Arctic region, the Yup’ik blend the ripened fruits with sea oil, caribou or reindeer fat (which is chopped and made fluffy by mixing it with sea oil), and also sugar to prepare “Akutaq” (Eskimo ice cream). These berries are a significant traditional food source for Arctic Yup’ik.
Since the vitamin C content of cloudberries is very high, they are highly valued by the Northern indigenous peoples as well as the Nordic seafarers. The polyphenol content, in addition to the various compounds contained by the berries, like benzoic acid, it is natural that the preparations of this fruit can be naturally preserve for long without any additives. Provided you store the cloudberry juice cool, it is effective for preserving the berries with no additives.
Habitat and cultivation
Cloudberries are found growing naturally in the swamps throughout the Arctic and Sub-Arctic expanse in the northern hemisphere. These plants are particularly found in the mountainous regions, but they also grow along the length of the forest roads and newly dug ditches in forest areas. In fact, wetlands without a drainage system yield the highest harvest of cloudberries.
In addition, cloudberry plants are also found throughout the Nordic countries, particularly in Finland. They also grow in large numbers in all the Baltic States, aside from northern Russia and Siberia. Cloudberries are indigenous plants in Alaska and Canada in North America. Since these plants possess the aptitude to endure low temperatures, as much as -40°C, they are suitable for growing in the Arctic and Sub-Arctic regions.
Cloudberries can be grown easily, particularly in high-quality loamy soils receiving adequate sunlight or in partially shaded areas. These fruits are considered to be connoisseurs’ favourite and are sometimes available in specialty stores. If one requires seeds of this species, he/ she should grow both the male and female cloudberry plants in close vicinity.
Cloudberries can be propagated both from their seeds as well as by root division. However, it is essential to stratify the seeds before sowing. Ideally, the seeds should be sown in a cold frame in the beginning of autumn. If you are propagating the plants from stored seeds, it is essential to keep them in stratification at about 3°C for a month. It is advised that you sow the seeds at the earliest possible time of the year. When the seedlings have grown large enough so that they can be handled properly, you should prick them and continue growing them in a cold frame. You can move the young plants in their permanent positions outdoors during spring in the following year. If you are propagating the plant through root division, it is advised that you do the division at the beginning of spring or just prior to the plants start shedding their leaves in autumn.
Chemical analysis of cloudberries (Rubus chamaemorus) has revealed that this fruit encloses anthocyanins, citric acid, provitamin A carotenoid, malic acid, α-tocopherol and β-carotene. However, the content of these nutrients differ in the fruits grown in different regions depending on the temperature, exposure to sunlight and rainfall. In addition to the above mentioned nutrients, cloudberries also contain 14 volatile compounds, which include vanillin. The aroma of cloudberries is attributed to the presence of these volatile compounds.
Collection and harvesting
Ripe cloudberry fruits are soft and juicy and their size is similar to that of raspberries. Cloudberries begin to ripe sometime in July end or in early August. These fruits are harvested manually.