Cranberries are a common sight in the United States. In Scandinavia, what you have as a substitute is lingonberry. These two berries come from the same family of plants. Lingonberries fit naturally into the nordic diet that comprises wild, native, or foraged food items. Lingonberries are small in shape, with an appealing red color that promises sweetness.
Lingonberries are not so common in North America, but you can find them if you know where to look. Lingonberry is mostly used in jams and condiments, so you may have had it before without knowing.
What do lingonberries taste like? Lingonberries can be eaten raw, cooked, or mashed up in syrup. In its raw form, the berry is quite sour. It contains a lot of sugar, a lot more than cranberries. But, the sweetness doesn’t show when it is eaten raw. When lingonberries are cooked or mashed up in syrup, the tartness is reduced.
If you want the berries to have a sweeter taste without cooking them, or mashing them up in syrup, the trick is to wait and pick them after the cold has gotten to them.
Many people are more familiar with cranberries because they are much easier to find in stores. Lingonberries are not easy to procure but, can they serve as an alternative to cranberries in dishes and recipes.
Nutritional Benefits of Lingonberries
Lingonberry has a lot of nutritional benefits to offer the human body. In some parts of the world, they have been acknowledged as a superfruit based on the nutritional value that they have to offer.
In the nutrition sector, lingonberries are well known for the antioxidant properties that they have. These berries play hosts to nutrients like manganese and supply well above the reference daily intake (RDI). They are not lacking in vitamins either, a serving of lingonberry can supply 12% and 10% of the RDIs for vitamin C and E respectively.
The red pigment color in lingonberries is due to the presence of anthocyanins. The presence of anthocyanins and flavonoids might be largely responsible for the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that lingonberries have. Antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents can help reduce the risk of heart diseases, high blood pressure, and other chronic diseases.
There are healthy bacteria in our mouths that promote good health. These healthy bacteria are known as Microbiota and are nurtured by what you eat. Lingonberry can bring about a change in the make of the microbiota in our guts and help protect against low-grade inflammation.
Lingonberries have a low-calorie count. In a serving of lingonberries, you could have just 54 calories. This makes it a weight-friendly food as it doesn’t adversely affect the waistline.
But, lingonberries might be able to help with weight loss because of their anti-obesity effect. This is not a known fact but just speculation. The weight losing properties might be attributed to the change that it brings to the microbiota in our mouths.
Lastly, lingonberries might be able to protect the retina from radical damage. The human eye is susceptible to ultraviolet light from the sun and blue light from phone and computer screens. Test-tube studies carried out on lingonberry extract have shown that they might be able to protect the retina cells from free radical damage that can be caused by these kinds of lights.
Culinary Uses of Lingonberries
Many chefs who are fascinated with lingonberries have tried out so many forms of the berry. Lingonberries can be eaten with Norwegian pancakes or added to meatballs, and fried herring. Lingonberries can be used in food design because of their unique looks and exceptionally bright color
It can also be added to soups, used in wines and cocktails to add flavor. The berries can also also be used as toppings in baked goods. For the most part, because of how hard it is to get fresh lingonberries, they usually are mashed in syrup then converted into jam.
Lingonberries can be frozen and eaten raw. The frost does well to draw out the sweetness in the berries. The berries can also be boiled with sugar and flour and left to thicken before consumption. There are several ways in which lingonberries can be used for culinary purposes, there are no laid-down rules to how the berries should be used.
Where are Lingonberries Grown? How Do You Procure Them?
Lingonberries can be found in the Arctic Tundra regions and boreal forests. The name lingonberry is drawn out from the Swedish language and is derived from the Norse lyngr or heather.
Lingonberry grows all over Europe and America, the berry is usually picked from the wild. In Michigan, United States, the plant that bears lingonberries is regarded as an endangered species. Since the 1960s, lingonberries have been cultivated in the Netherlands. But in recent times, cultivation of the berries for commercial purposes has commenced in the United States Pacific Northwest and other regions of the world.
Procuring fresh lingonberries is one heck of a task. Lingonberries are usually available in specialty grocery stores when they are in season.
What Do Lingonberries Smell Like?
Lingonberries have a nice scent. They smell like a mix of fruit and spice. There are notes of apple, lemon, clove, mountain air, cinnamon, and musk. The scent of lingonberry is usually used in fragrance oils, handmade soaps, and body lotion. In candles, it smells nice.
Facts You Don’t Know About Lingonberries
- Lingonberries have properties that give them the ability to be stored for months at room temperature in a jar of water, without the addition of any preservative salt.
- The binomial name for lingonberries is Vaccinium vitis-idaea.
- The lingonberry can keep its leaves throughout the entire year even though it grows in a cold climate. It is rugged and can thrive in nutrient-poor soils, but won’t grow on alkaline soils.