Lingonberry (cowberry): nutrition facts and health benefits


The lingonberry is a small red berry. There are several varieties, such as cowberry or cranberry vine of Mount Ida. Lingonberry is small, red and acid, slightly floury. It is found on the early fruit stalls in August and September.

Cranberries the “great cowberry of North America” have an average size and are red and acid. They are found from September to December. Large cranberries or big atocas are 1 to 2 cm in diameter, dark red and sour. These varieties are grown on an industrial scale in the United States and Canada.

Description of the lingonberry

The lingonberry Vaccinium vitis-idaea, in other words Deerberry of Mount Ida, is a low bush of the Vaccinium type, just like the blueberry, part of the family of the Ericaceae, with the heather or the rhododendron. Like them, it is a plant of acid ground. It grows naturally in forested areas, including on edge of pine woods, in mountains of Northern Europe and America, as well as Antarctica. It’s is a very cold-resistant plant (up to -40 °C).

The bush has the same name as its fruit. The height is 0.15 to 0.30 m, it spreads with underground rhizomes up to 1 m long and more. It has a triple interest. It’s persistent foliage, composed of small oval leaves, leathery and glazed, which reminds those of the box tree. The second interest is its flowering from spring to summer in clusters of small campanulas white pink flowers. The third interest is the fruits. They are edible and very decorative with their bright little red balls. It can therefore be planted in ornamental gardens, alone or as a ground cover at the base of ericaceous compost (rhododendrons, pieris, Japanese Maples,…) or in bin, as well in the garden or in the orchard.

The fruits of the lingonberry berries are red small colored berries of 5-10 mm in diameter. In the kitchen, given their tangy taste, they are usually transformed before being consumed in juice, wine, or liquor, or jellies and jams. They are used to accompany venison or dishes with sauce. They are also used to make compotes, frozen foams and condiments that accompany savory dishes. Finally, they also serve to produce alcohol. However, their acidity decreases when they are chard, after a frost. They can be eaten raw, alone or in fruit salad.

Furthermore, the lingonberry are used in traditional medicine and cosmetology. These are fruits rich in vitamins A and C and have many antioxidants anthocyanin and flavonoids. They are rich in magnesium, fiber and pectin which contain little carbohydrate and have little calories.

On the other hand, lingonberries are not recommended to people who suffer from kidney stones, due to their content in oxalic acid.

Berries and leaves of lingonberry have diuretic, disinfectant and antibacterial virtues for the urinary tract. The main area of use of the cowberry in natural medicine is cystitis.

Note: Cranberries are mainly eaten in the Northern Europe, Scandinavia and Germany. In North America, they are grown on a large scale a neighboring species, the cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon), also known as large fruit Deerberry or cranberry in English.

Lingonberry multiple benefits for health

Member of the family of Ericaceae, the cowberry is a low shrub. Its leaves are used for their medicinal properties. They would be particularly recommended against inflammations of the urinary and biliary tracts.

The lingonberry leaves contain vitamin C, sugars and plant antibiotics. These substances are disinfectant and astringent to treat inflammations of the urinary and biliary tracts, rheumatism, or diarrhea. In addition, phenolic derivatives, flavonoids and minerals would also have diuretic virtues.

The lingonberry fruit is a red berry. They are traditionally harvested for their health benefits, including their richness in vitamin C. They also include quantities of active substances such as flavonoids. They are also recommended to patients with capillaries and vessels problems.

You can eat them raw if you don’t mind the acidity. They can also be eaten in compote or jam, after having cooked in sugar. The Scandinavian recipe of lingonberries returned in the pan with sugar is also very recommendable. Serves with a duck breast or a salmon filet, it’s beautiful…

On the other hand, the lingonberries are discouraged if you suffer from kidney stones, due to their content in oxalic acid.

Note that herbal medicine is used in traditional medicine for centuries. Its effectiveness and safety are always discussed. And for good reason, as explained by the world Organization of health in a 1998 report, ‘a relatively small number of plant species were considered for possible medical applications. This article fits naturally into this approach.

Lingonberries: a concentrate of vitamins

There are many virtues of these little red berries. Their high concentration of minerals makes them an ideal fruit for athletes who need them after exercise to have plenty of magnesium and zinc. These fruits which grows in cold weather are also very high in antioxidants. Finally, the scientific name of cowberry is Vaccinium macrocarpon. This fruit is recommended for all people who suffer from chronic urinary infections. Indeed, thanks to its strong draining power, it helps the body to get rid of these bacteria that are painful for the body.

How to eat lingonberries?

The lingonberries can be easily frozen, dried or juice throughout the year. They are available fresh at the time of the Christmas and New Year holidays. therefore, it is the ideal time to cook them.

In the United States, lingonberries are inseparable from the Thanksgiving Feast which is held on the fourth Thursday of November. They accompany, as a sauce, the famous roasted turkey and delicious puree of sweet potato. You can use this North American culinary tradition to make a delicious cowberry grout, which will perfectly go with poultry or duck for your dinner party. These berries are also exquisite in sweet recipes! You can incorporate them into your cookie recipe, and they match well with the spices of Christmas like cinnamon or cardamom.

Culture and maintenance of lingonberry

Keep some moisture in the summer. Water the plants during dry periods, especially the first year.

As long as the plants are young, you can cover the ground with straw around them during dry period, with for example grass clippings. But we should not let this bedding throughout the year, because it would hinder the spreading of plants. When they are well developed, the straws will become useless because the cranberries form good groundcover.

In the spring, bring a bit of compost.

Water regularly the cranberries in a tray. In limestone region, prefer rain water to tap water.

Lingonberry harvest

When and how to harvest?

The harvest often takes place twice a year, in July and October. The berries are picked when they are very red and soft.

The conservation of lingonberry

Lingonberry is kept transformed into jams, jellies, juice, alcohol, dried… It can also be frozen.


The fruits have a pleasant smell. The peduncle should be green and not dried. The fruit should also be inflated, and not bloated. Fresh cowberries are quite rare in Europe. However, they are easily found on markets in the United States.

They exist whole in cans, dried or frozen. Most of the American and Canadian production of lingon berries is turned into juice and jam.


Lingonberries are rarely eaten raw because they are too acidic. They are eaten in sauce or whole. They are served with turkey and other poultry, especially game and sometimes foie gras. In Denmark, Christmas goose with cowberries compote is a tradition. They enter the composition of chutneys. Cowberries are used in cakes and muffins. In addition, they can be made in jelly, jam, marmalade or dried. Cranberry juice goes into the composition of cocktails.

Nutritional value

Lingonberries are full of all kinds of antioxidant molecules (including carotene, precursor of vitamin A), vitamin C, vitamin E and minerals.

Associations of flavours

Agave syrup, ostrich, Capon, shallot, fatty liver, thyme


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