Red tangy berry with high nutritional value that grows wild in cool climates. Do you have any guesses which berry we are talking about? Most of us have heard about cranberry, but what about lingonberry? What is it? Although they look similar, is lingonberry the same as cranberry? What are the differences between lingonberry vs. cranberry?
The short answer
Lingonberry, also called cowberry, is not the same as cranberry. However, both lingonberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea) and cranberry (European Vaccinium oxycoccos or North American Vaccinium macrocarpon) are part of the Vaccinium family of plants, just like blueberries, huckleberries, and bilberries.
Geographic expansion of lingonberry vs. cranberry
Both wild lingonberry and cranberry like cool climates. However, there are some differences in where they grow. Wild lingonberries typically grow in arctic areas in Europe, North America, and Asia, whereas wild cranberries grow in North America and some South American countries like Chile. Cranberries are nowadays being cultivated in various areas in Northern America, Europe, and Chile. On the contrary, lingonberries are rarely cultivated, except in some cold Northern American regions.
Size, look, and taste of lingonberry vs. cranberry
The cranberry diameter is typically around 9–14 mm (0.4–0.6 in), whereas that of the lingonberry is a bit smaller, around 6–10 mm (0.2–0.4 in). Both have a deep dark red color.
Interestingly, the wild lingonberries and cranberries’ flesh is light pink or red, whereas the flesh of cranberries you find in farms is typically white. The difference comes from the amount of procyanidin – a super healthy antioxidant – in the berry. The darker the color of the skin and the flesh, the more antioxidants the berry contains. Wild lingonberries contain a higher amount of procyanidin compared to any cultivated ones, thus the deeper color.
Both lingonberry and cranberry have a tangy taste and contain very little sugar than other berries like strawberry and blueberry. Lingonberries are usually a bit less acidic, making them a bit sweeter in taste than cranberries. Below, we show how natural Cranberry and Lingonberry should taste.
Nutritional value of lingonberry and cranberry
No dilemma here. Both berries are extremely nutritious, and if you the chance to include both of them in your diet, please do it. Here we are comparing the main nutrients that both of these superfood berries are known for. As you can see in the graph below, Wild Cranberry is the winner when it comes to natural fiber and Vitamins A and C. On the other hand, Wild Lingonberry is the winner when it comes to the concentration of antioxidants, while both berries have the same amount of Vitamin K. So, if you are wondering which one is the best, the answer is both.
How to use lingonberry vs. cranberry
There are endless ways to use both cranberries and lingonberries. People typically find fresh and frozen cranberries in the form of whole berries, juices, and jams. Often, people use them in cooking and baking. Few people eat them because of their acidic and tangy taste. However, dried cranberries with added sugar are often used in salads or enjoyed as a snack.
Lingonberries are also great for juices, jams, baking, and desserts. Also, fresh lingonberries are a delicious treat in the Nordic countries that people love to eat fresh in the late summer to early fall.
However, this super berry is not commonly available in many countries. The good news is that you can nowadays find it in the form of lingonberry powder. Having the powder, you can easily add it on top of your oatmeal, yogurt, cereal, or desserts – all year round, regardless of where you live. Arctic Flavors lingonberry powder comprises 100% wild lingonberries with no preservatives, sugar, or colorants. A spoonful of this superfood powder is equal to a handful of fresh lingonberries.
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If you would like to learn more about the lingonberry, the Nordics’ amazing superfood, visit our blog post What is lingonberry and 6 other must-know facts about lingonberry.
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