Foundation Diet and Health

The best perspective for your health

The best perspective for your health

The best perspective for your health

The best perspective for your health

Lingonberry

Lingonberries have a tart and slightly bitter flavor. They are rich in vitamins and minerals and are used in the treatment of urinary tract infections.
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Bright red lingonberries (Vaccinium vitis-idaea, Ericaceae) are harvested from late summer to early fall. Lingonberry preparations are used as a natural preventative and treatment for urinary tract infections. They should not be confused with cranberries.

Culinary uses:

Lingonberries are quite tart, so they are often cooked and sweetened before eating in the form of lingonberry jam, compote, juice, smoothie or syrup. The raw fruits are also frequently simply mashed with sugar, which preserves most of their nutrients and taste. This mix can be stored at room temperature but is best preserved frozen. Fruit served this way or as compote often accompany game and liver dishes.1
Other lingonberry products include wines, liqueurs, cheesecake, soufflé, sherbet, ice cream, candies, and pickles.2

Purchasing:

You will find lingonberry products in some grocery stores, specialty stores, and online.

Finding wild:

The berries collected in the wild are a popular fruit in northern, central and eastern Europe, notably in Nordic countries, the Baltic states, central and northern Europe.
Wild lingonberry is widely distributed across cold climates of the American continent including the Canadian Pacific Northwest, Northeastern Canada, and the Northern US (Alaska, Washington, Oregon). Wild lingonberry is endangered in Michigan.1

Storing:

Their high benzoic acid content gives lingonberries a long shelf life. You can store them for 8 – 12 weeks in the refrigerator, and several years in the freezer. Unpicked ripe fruit may persist on plants into spring.2

Nutritional information:

Lingonberries are rich in antioxidants, vitamin C, vitamin A (as beta-carotene), B vitamins (B1, B2, B3); and potassium, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus.

Use as a medicinal plant:

Lingonberry extract is used as a component for cough syrup. Lingonberry preparations are also used for the treatment of blood disorders and urinary tract infections.2

Description:

Cultivation and harvest:

Commercial production of lingonberries is well-established in northern Europe. Commercial planting of this small fruit crop on the American continent essentially got its start in Wisconsin during the 1990s through the efforts of Dr. Elden Stang of the University of Wisconsin. Its production is expanding into the colder areas of Canada and the US.
Lingonberry is generally planted in spring or fall with rooted cuttings or plugs. Smaller summer crops are generally not harvested in favor of heavier fall crops. Berries are said to be at their best when picked after a hard frost. Harvesting may be done much like lowbush blueberry or cranberry using hand-held scoops. Machine harvest is also possible using mechanical harvesters like those used for dry harvesting cranberries. Plants reach full production 4 to 5 years after planting.2

General information:

Lingonberries have a tart flavor and are rich in vitamins and minerals. The best time to pick lingonberries is late summer to autumn. The presence of anthocyanins in lingonberries is one possible reason why the fruit helps protect against urinary tract and biliary duct infections, rheumatic diseases, and gout.
Lingonberry alternative: In place of lingonberries, you can use cranberries. Both lingonberries and cranberries are in the heath or heather family. And since they have such a similar flavor, they are often thought to be the same berry. However, lingonberries originated in Europe and Asia and are much smaller (size of a pea) than cranberries (size of a small olive), which are native to North America. Lingonberries grow on short, dense bushes and spread by underground stems whereas cranberries grow on low, creeping vines and are propagated by cuttings.1,2

Alternative names:

Lingonberries are also known as cowberry, foxberry, quailberry, bearberry, beaverberry, mountain cranberry, red whortleberry, lowbush cranberry, cougarberry, mountain bilberry, partridgeberry (in Newfoundland and Cape Breton Island), redberry (in Labrador and the Lower North Shore of Quebec).

Literature / Sources:

  1. Wikipedia. Lingonberries [Internet]. Version dated 08.28.2018
  2. Cathy Heidenreich, Small Fruit Extension Support Specialist, Department of Horticulture, Cornell College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, “THE LOWDOWN ON LINGONBERRIES,” first published in New York Berry News Vol. 9(6), June 19, 2010, https://cpb-us-e1.wpmucdn.com/ blogs.cornell.edu/dist/0/7265/ files/2016/12/Lingonberries-s7ajxu.pdf.

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