Blue berry picking right outside of Reykjavik.

Blue berry picking right outside of Reykjavik.

We went berry picking a couple weeks ago with some friends from the embassy, which was something I haven’t done since I was a teenager. And obviously I’ve never been berry picking in Iceland and never for blue berries. I’m intentionally separating the two words since Icelandic blue berries are simply a small blue berry actually called aðalbláber or bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) and not what we think of in the US as a blueberry (Vaccinium cyanococcus).

When I was growing up I loved picking berries in both Alaska (salmonberries) and California (blackberries). We never did anything fancy with them like make jam or pies…we would just grab a little pile and eat them…sometimes with ice cream. 🙂

Happily they sell fairly large containers of American-style blueberries from Holland in the grocery stores for a ridiculous amount of money. But they taste so good and are so good for you. I think it’s worth it.

You can also pick crowberries in Iceland, which are slightly darker and not as sweet. You can buy a beautiful crowberry liqueur at the liquor stores and in tourist shops for about $25 USD that yields a whopping 200 ml (6.7 ounces) worth of liquid.

Blue berry season generally lasts from the beginning of August to mid-September. Sadly, we didn’t harvest that many berries on our day out…maybe about a cup’s worth…but it was great fun to get out with friends, it kept the kids interested for a decent interval, and it was nice to take part in an Icelandic family tradition.

Bilberries.

Bilberries.

Crowberries.

Crowberries.

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