Small, deep ruby in color and tart, this fruit is the Scandinavian equivalent to North American cranberries in terms of both taste and use. They also come from the same family of plants. The berries grow abundantly on low-lying evergreen bushes in acidic soul throughout Scandinavian and northern North American forests (New England, the upper Midwest, Pacific Northwest, and Canada).
These berries show up most often in jams and condiments, but if you should find them for sale somewhere, fresh or frozen (the latter is more accessible) consider yourself very lucky. This fruit is mostly wild harvested, and not cultivated for mass consumption as a fresh fruit. Consequently, the price typically reflects this reality—they’re not cheap. But the effort is worth it. They can be used in a variety of applications, both sweet and savory.
Their ruby color, fall harvest time, and kinship to cranberries make them a great addition to your a holiday table in lieu of cranberries. And if you can’t find them, you can use cranberries in a lingonberry recipe. Much like cranberries, lingonberries do well as condiments that need sugar to be palatable, and that’s when their variety of uses comes into play. When transformed into a jam or syrup, lingonberries pair well with wild game, red meat, fish, and a wide range of desserts and cocktails.
As the story goes, ancient mariners and seafarers brought lingonberry concoctions, rich in vitamin C, along with them on voyages at sea to lessen the risk of contracting scurvy. And yes indeed, this berry does contain a range of antioxidants, which can aid in the reduction of inflammation and, when consumed with cranberries, have been shown to ward off urinary tract infections due to its antibacterial properties. In addition to vitamin C, lingonberries are a good source of vitamin A, manganese, and magnesium.