Lingonberries

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Lingonberry bush

Lingonberry also called cowberry, foxberry, mountain cranberry, red whortleberry, lowbush cranberry, partridgeberry (in Newfoundland and Cape Breton), and redberry (in Labrador) – is a small evergreen shrub in the flowering plant family Ericaceae that bears edible fruit.

It is seldom cultivated, but the fruits are commonly collected in the wild. The native habitat is the circumboreal forests of northern Eurasia and North America, extending from temperate into subarctic climates.

Lingonberries collected in the wild are a popular fruit in northern, central and eastern Europe, notably in Finland, Austria, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, the Baltic Countries, Poland, Slovakia, and Russia, where they can be picked on both public and private lands in accordance with the European tradition of "everyman's rights". Because the berries are quite tart, they are almost always cooked and sweetened before eating in the form of lingonberry jam, compote, juice, or syrup. The raw fruits are also frequently simply mashed with sugar, which preserves most of their nutrients and flavour and even enables storing them at room temperature (in closed but not necessarily sealed containers). Lingonberries served this way or as compote often accompany game meats and liver dishes. In Sweden and Norway, reindeer steak is traditionally served with gravy and Lingonberry sauce. Lingonberry preserve is commonly eaten with meatballs and potatoes in Sweden. In Sweden and Russia, when sugar was still a luxury item, lingonberries were usually preserved simply by putting them whole into bottles of water. This was known as vattlingon (watered lingonberries), and preserved them until next season. This was also a home remedy against scurvy. In Russia this preserve had been known as "lingonberry water" and is a traditional soft drink. In Russian folk medicine lingonberry water had been used as mild laxative. A traditional Finnish dish is sautéed reindeer (poronkäristys) with mashed potatoes and lingonberries, either cooked or raw with sugar. In Poland, Lingonberries are often mixed with pears to create a sauce served with poultry or game. Lingonberries can also be used to replace red currants when creating the Cumberland sauce to give it a more sophisticated taste.

Lingonberries are also popular as a wild picked fruit in North America in Newfoundland and Labrador, where they are locally known as partridgeberries. In this region they are also incorporated into jams, syrups, and baked goods.

Lingonberries are used to make Lillehammer berry liqueur.


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