What’s in a name? That which we call a lingonberry
By any other name would be as healthy.
~ William Shakesberry
Cowberries grow in Cow Bay. Of course they do, you say. Where else would cowberries grow? Well, in a lot of places actually. They’re found in most countries located in the circumpolar expanse that encompasses the arctic tundra and the sub-arctic regions of the boreal forest (known as the taiga in Russia). Vaccinium vitis-idaea goes by a number of names: partridgeberry, foxberry, redberry, lingonberry, quail berry, csejka berry, mountain bilberry, mountain cranberry, lowbush cranberry and… cowberry.
Regardless of what it is called, this tart red berry is brimming full of anti-oxidants. Native peoples and Scandinavians have known this for some time, but North Americans are just catching up on the news, making the lingonberry the new superstar natural food recommended for lowering bad cholesterol and fighting cancer.
Dr. Oz puts lingonberries in a smoothie with almond milk while Scandinavians (even IKEA) and Newfoundlanders make them into a jam/preserve which can be spread on toast or served with venison, ideally reindeer meat. However, I enjoy the berries fresh off the vine, their flavor being a blend of blueberry and cranberry. Frost enhances their flavor but makes them more mushy. I also find them tasty crushed fresh and sprinkled with sugar as a topping for vanilla ice-cream.
This evergreen vine often grows in boggy places. The ones I found were on or near deadfall trees in locations many would consider scrub wastelands. As old growth forests on the edge of wetlands are destroyed to make way for new ‘developments,’ I’m sure these wonderful berries will become less common here in Cow Bay Nova Scotia, and consequently even more prized for their healthful properties.