Red tangy berry packed with vitamins, growing wild in cool climates – any guesses which berry we’re talking about? Most of us have heard about cranberry, but what about lingonberry? What is it? Although it looks similar, is lingonberry the same as cranberry? What is the difference 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 are usually found in North America and in 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 some cold Northern American regions.
Size, look, and taste of lingonberry and cranberry
The diameter of a cranberry 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 flesh of the wild lingonberries and cranberries is light pink or red, whereas the flesh of cultivated cranberries 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 are found to contain a higher amount of procyanidin compared to any cultivated ones, thus the deeper color.
Both lingonberry and cranberry have a tangy taste, containing very little sugar compared to some other berries like strawberry and blueberry. Lingonberries are usually a bit less acidic, making them a bit sweeter in taste than cranberries.
How to use lingonberry vs. cranberry
There are endless ways to use both cranberries and lingonberries. Fresh and frozen cranberries are typically used for juices, jams, baking, and desserts. Few people eat them as such because of their acidic and tangy taste, but dried sweetened cranberries are often added in salads and enjoyed as a snack.
Lingonberries are also great for juices, jams, baking, and desserts. In addition, fresh lingonberries are a delicious treat eaten as such in Nordic countries in the late summer and early fall.
However, this super berry is not commonly available in many countries. The good news is that in the form of lingonberry powder, it can be easily added on top of your oatmeal, yogurt, cereal or desserts – all year round, regardless of where you live. Arctic Flavors lingonberry powder is made of 100% wild freeze-dried lingonberries – no preservatives, sugar or colorants added. A spoonful of this superfood powder equals a handful of fresh lingonberries.
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If you’re interested in learning more about the lingonberry, the amazing superfood of the Nordics, visit our blog post What is lingonberry and 6 other must-know facts about lingonberry.
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