Lingonberry Vaccinium vitis-idaea (lingonberry or cowberry) is a short evergreen shrub in the heath family that bears edible fruit, native to boreal forest and Arctic tundra throughout the Northern Hemisphere from Eurasia to North America.
Lingonberries are a staple in Northern Scandinavia, picked in the wild and used to accompany a variety of dishes. Commercial cultivation is undertaken in the U.S. Pacific Northwest.
Vaccinium vitis-idaea is most commonly known in English as lingonberry or cowberry. The name lingonberry originates from the Swedish name lingon for the species.
Uses The berries 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 in closed but not necessarily sealed containers, but in this condition, they are best preserved frozen. Fruit served this way or as compote often accompany game and liver dishes.
In Poland, the berries are often mixed with pears to create a sauce served with poultry or game. The berries can also be used to replace redcurrants when creating Cumberland sauce to give it a more sophisticated taste.
Lingonberries are a staple item in Sweden. They are often sold as jam and juice, and as a key ingredient in dishes. They are used to make Lillehammer berry liqueur, and in East European countries, lingonberry vodka is sold.
The berries are an important food for bears and foxes, and many fruit-eating birds.
The berries contain plentiful organic acids, vitamin C, vitamin A (as beta carotene), B vitamins (B1, B2, B3), and the elements potassium, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. In addition to these nutrients, they also contain phytochemicals that are thought to counteract urinary-tract infections, and the seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.