I’ve known about them for quite some time thanks to the Swedish company IKEA. There, you can buy the berry in every form imaginable as lingonberry concentrate, soda, jelly, jam and more… so I don’t have to tell you they are delicious!
Next to Swedish meatballs, lingonberries are perhaps the best-known Scandinavian food. Native to northern regions such as Scandinavia, Canada and Alaska, these small, bright red berries have a mild cranberry-like flavor that complements both sweet and savory meals.
Recently, Dr. Oz, dedicated a segment of his show on this berry. He stated that this berry is most healthy food. He stated its many health benefits including:
- Its ability to zap sugar. It’s power to help fight diabetes.
- Its ability to help reduce bad cholesterol which can damage your arteries. This will help you avoid heart attacks and strokes.
- Its natural antibiotic capabilities.
As their Scandinavian popularity would suggest, lingonberries are very cold-hardy. They are evergreen shrubs, and stay in leaf through the winter. In warmer climates, such as USDA Hardiness Zones 9 and 10, lingonberry neither grows well nor reliably survives summer.
Lingonberries typically bloom twice, once in early spring and once in summer. Besides acidity, lingonberries like a free-draining soil, preferably a peaty one or a light loamy soil with added leaf-mould, or even sawdust. They can stand a fair bit of shade, but yield best in full sun.
They grow well in the same conditions as blueberries. Plant them in early spring to provide an opportunity for root development before summer. Their compact size makes lingonberry plants perfect for containers and window boxes. Lingonberry plants can also be used for ground covering like sedum.
Lingonberries do not like to get their feet wet. Clay soil and/or boggy conditions are sure roads to failure. In our experience we have also found that they do not like a lot of fertilizer.
Lingonberry plants spread by underground runners to three feet. The glossy, dark green leaves are 1/8- to 1/2-inch long and usually tinged red when new.
Lingonberries are self-pollinating. But, cross-pollination will produce larger fruits that ripen earlier. Besides, mixing fruit of several varieties will tickle your palate with all the fine, tart nuances of lingonberry flavor.
Bumblebees are the best natural lingonberry pollinators. Plants need two to three years to begin bearing good crops.
Lingonberries are slightly smaller than cranberries but otherwise look and are cooked the same. Flavor, however, is distinct. Pick the firm, deep red fruits and refrigerate immediately. Sound fruit will keep for up to three weeks. Or wash, drain and freeze them for use later in the season.
Propagate plants in spring by splitting and separating a crown and transplanting clumps. It helps older plantings that have become crowded and unproductive. Except for the occasional removal of dead and damaged shoots every spring, lingonberries require no pruning.
Varieties of Lingonberry
Introduced in 1981, this is a very vigorous grower producing exceptional crops of large, light red fruits. It’s mild-flavored, in contrast to tart and tangy Koralle.
This Dutch variety is the most popular and provides most European commercial production. Attractive plants are upright and vigorous. The small to medium-sized fruits are highly flavored but somewhat tart. Often fruits of Koralle are blended with those of a more productive but mild-flavored variety such as —Sussi.
This recently introduced (1983) Dutch variety produces large, mild-flavored fruits and appears to have resistance to Phytophthora root rot. Fruits ripen one to two weeks earlier than Koralle.
Selected by Dr. Elden Stang from seed collected in Finland, Regal is noted for its superior fruit size and early bearing.
This new Norwegian introduction produces some fruit but is mostly noted for producing abundant pollen, which makes it a valuable pollinator.
This Swedish variety is slow to establish but ultimately produces large red fruits abundantly.
Lingonberry. Grow it, taste it. Everyone will love it.
Yours truly for a great garden with flowers, berries, and veggies
Polly – Organic Gardener