You Don't Want To Eat Raw Lingonberries. Here's Why

Lingonberries probably aren't a fruit you're used to seeing at the grocery store — they're much more popular in Scandinavian countries, including Sweden, but you might occasionally come across them while shopping in the U.S. According to The Spruce Eats, they're almost like the Scandinavian version of cranberries, and are a similarly deep red color with a tart flavor. If you're lucky enough to find some, you can also use them like you would cranberries in most recipes.

While you might be tempted to just pop one of these shiny red berries in your mouth, lingonberries aren't really meant to be eaten raw. According to Swedish Food, raw lingonberries have a strong bitter flavor, but if you cook them and add sugar, it balances out the bitterness and makes the berries delicious as a dessert or alongside meat or fish. In Sweden, lingonberries are also popular at breakfast, especially as a jam with porridge. If you want to try them for yourself, try looking for lingonberry jam or preserves (they might be a little easier to find in the U.S. than the raw berries).

Health benefits of lingonberries

As long as you cook them to balance out their bitter flavor, lingonberries can be a super tasty side dish or sauce, and they're good for you, too. According to The Spruce Eats, lingonberries are filled with antioxidants and can help reduce inflammation. They're particularly high in vitamin C, and also have plenty of vitamin A, manganese, and magnesium.

Healthline explains that lingonberries might also promote healthy gut bacteria, healthy blood sugar levels, and heart and eye health. More studies are needed to prove these benefits for humans, but in previous tests on mice, lingonberries were found to help prevent low-grade inflammation while increasing the numbers of bacteria that can help keep your gut healthy. Scientists are still studying everything that lingonberries can do, but for their antioxidants alone it's worth incorporating them into your diet.

In Scandinavian countries, lingonberry sauces and jams are popular alongside meatballs and potato pancakes, but as mentioned in The Spruce Eats, there are tons of different ways you can try them. Now, you can find lingonberries in desserts like cheesecake, in soups, and even as part of a carefully crafted cocktail. No matter how you decide to work them in, just be sure to stick to cooked lingonberries to enjoy them at their best.