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What are Lingonberries? - A Scandinavian Cooking Definition

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Scandinavian Lingonberries

Fresh lingonberries, ready for making into preserves.

photo ©Kari Diehl, licensed to About.com
Definition: Lingonberries (Vaccinium vitis-idaea) are to Scandinavians what blackberries are to Americans – an abundant wild fruit free for the taking by anyone with a basket, a harvesting fork, and the patience to pick through and clean their harvest. Produced by low, evergreen shrubs throughout Scandinavia's forests, the tart red berries are much smaller and juicier than their distant cousin, the cranberry. Bursting with natural preservatives and pectin, lingonberries were invaluable to earlier generations of Scandinavians, for they could be kept for months at room temperature simply by placing them in jars of water (vattlingon) or by stirring the raw berries with a small amount of sugar to make rårörda lingon, an easy lingonberry jam (no cooking required). If looking for lingonberries or lingonberry jam in ethnic European food markets, you may also find them called red whortleberries, cowberries, fox berries, mountain cranberries, mountain bilberries, or partridgeberries.
Pronunciation: LIN-GHUN-BERRIES
Also Known As: Tyttebær (in Norwegian and Danish), rauðber (in Icelandic), puolukka(in Finnish), and lingon (in Swedish).
Examples:
Lingonberries are delicious when prepared in recipes such as lingonberry sorbet.

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