If you plan to spend your summer holidays in southern Norway, you may harvest much of your food from the forests, and hence considerably stretch your holiday budget. The Norwegian nature offers a wide range of delicious mushrooms and berries and everyone is allowed to collect them. One should only know how, when and where.
If you love mushrooms, and know how to distinguish the toxic ones from the good ones, then Norway is indeed an eldorado. In August and September, the woods are full of chanterelles, bay boletes and our favorite the delicious yellow boletus.
In general, the Norwegians are not interested in collecting their own mushrooms for consumption, hence you will probably not face any competition from locals when searching for mushrooms. And even better, in Norway anybody is allowed to collect and harvest as many mushrooms he or she wants. There are practically no restrictions, other than the old unwritten rule that you should be considerate and not go close to houses and cottages and you should not enter fenced farmland.
Thurid and I usually collect the yellow boletus only. It simply tastes magnificent. The Italians call it porcino, and in the Italian cuisine you find it in many variations. We collect it in humid fir and pine forests, but never in swampy grounds nor in birch forests. Some years are extremely rich with yellow boletus, then we collect large quantities of this delicacy. In the year 2003, which was perhaps the best yellow boletus year during the last two decades, we found 30 kg of it in a few hours. Also 2009 was a very good year.
You may boil the yellow boletus shortly in water and thereafter deepfreeze it, or you may cut it in thin slices and dry it a couple of hours at around 40ºC in the oven. Then you are able to serve it to your friends and family whenever you plan a good dinner. We love it on top of noodles in a creamy sauce, or simply fried crispy in the pan together with salt and pepper, and then served as a tasteful starter.
If you like berries, then the best time to visit southern Norway is in July and August. Delicious berries grow everywhere in the woods, and in Norway everybody is allowed to pick as many as they like. Some Norwegian do collect berries, but there are so many berries and so few collectors that the competition from a few locals will have no effect on your harvest.
Wild raspberries are more tasteful than those you have in your garden, but also smaller and hence more troublesome and time consuming to harvest than those in your garden. They grow along the roads and frequently at sunny spots along rivers and creeks.
Blueberries are found in pine woods. They are extremely tasteful when served freshly together with cream and sugar. This is the favorite dessert of my favorite cousin Siri, who lives in Germany and eats little else when she is in Norway.
Cranberries are found in large quantities in sunny spots in the forest, e.g. in areas where the pine trees have recently been cut. We prefer to cook them to jelly with much sugar, and then serve them with a steak or moose meat and a red wine sauce during a good dinner.
And where exactly is the best location to find all the delicacies? You can find them almost everywhere in southern Norway, but a good starting point are the communities of Evje, Vennesla, Iveland, Birkeland and Marnardal which are located in Aust-Agder and Vest-Agder.
Good luck and enjoy!