Lingonberries are also called lowbush cranberries. The ripe fruit is deep red and similar in appearance to the commercial bog cranberry but much smaller and more flavorful. They grow on low (up to 6 inches tall) plants with tiny, leathery, shiny leaves. Lingonberries are found in woods, thickets, mountain slopes and tundra.
Lingonberries are best if picked after the first frost. Pick ripe but firm berries for the best flavor. Lingonberries freeze well and if frozen properly will last up to two years. To freeze, arrange fresh, dry berries in one layer on a cookie sheet then place it in the freezer. When frozen, transfer to freezer bags or containers. Lingonberries can be substituted in recipes for the commercial bog cranberry. Because of their high acid content, they should be cooked in glass, enamel, or stainless steel cookware.
This is one of our most frequently requested recipes during "berry season":
Lingonberry Banana Jam
3 cups lingonberries
1 1/2 cups water
2 cups mashed bananas
7 cups sugar
3 ounces liquid pectin
Prepare lids. Open liquid pectin pouch and stand upright in a cup or glass.
Simmer the lingonberries and water for 10 minutes. Add the mashed bananas and sugar. Bring to a boil and boil hard for one minute. Remove from the heat. Add pectin. Stir and quickly skim off foam. Immediately pour jam into hot canning jars, leaving one-fourth-inch head space.
Wipe jar rims and add prepared two-piece lids. Process 15 minutes in a boiling water canner. Yield: 7 cups.
Or try this for something different.
2 cups ground lingonberries (about 4 cups whole lingonberries)
1/2 cup raisins
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
1 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
Mix all ingredients together thoroughly (frozen berries are easier to grind). Refrigerate an hour or more prior to serving so flavors can mingle. Serve with meat. Makes 2 1/2 cups.
Linda Tannehill is an agent at the Alaska Cooperative Extension Office. She is a home economist and involved in the 4-H/Youth Development programs. The Kenai Peninsula District Extension Office is at 43961 Kalifornsky Beach Road, Suite A, Soldotna, AK. The phone number is 262-5824 or toll-free at (800) 478-5824.
Peninsula Clarion ©2013. All Rights Reserved.