Lingonberries are called super berries because of the health benefits they provide to us. But does lingonberry jam contain the same amount of nutrients?
Well, the answer isn't a simple yes or no. There's more to it. For example, there are a lot of different ways to make a lingonberry jam which can eliminate a large part of the health benefits lingonberry jam can provide.
If you make it yourself you have control over the ingredients in the jam, and you can make it as healthy as you want. But if you buy the jam, you must read the label carefully so that you can avoid the less healthy ones.
Lingonberries are amazing. A bit sour and tart in taste and when they're ripe they taste fantastic. It's very common to make jam out of these red berries. You can either make the jam yourself or buy it.
Lingonberry jam is often sweeter and not quite as sour and tart in flavor as the fresh berry. I think that's the reason so many people appreciate the lingonberry jam. Often more than the fresh berry. If you are interested in finding out more about the taste of lingonberries in different kinds of settings, you can read our article: What do lingonberries taste like?
Lingonberries are very common in Scandinavia. It's so common in fact that when you're out in the woods there are moments that just makes you stop; It's when you realize that you are standing in the middle of a big lingonberry thicket. All you see around you are red dots. Hundreds of them. Amazing!
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What Is Lingonberry Jam?
Lingonberry jam is traditionally a jam that's prepared with lingonberries mixed with sugar and sometimes a little water. That is really the only ingredients you need to make a traditional lingonberry jam.
But the lingonberry jam that you buy almost always contain much more water than what's needed. Several manufacturers also put a lot of additives in the jam, such as thickener, preservative and citric acid. You can also find cheaper varieties of lingonberry jam in stores that's been diluted with apples. This of course changes the jam, both in texture and taste.
It all comes down to economics. Water and apples are cheaper than lingonberries, so manufacturers sacrifice the fantastic taste and texture of the lingonberry jam in order to make a higher profit.
The other side of the coin is that if they didn't make it cheaper, then some might not be able to experience the jam at all. What we do at Care Omnia is we inform you as a reader so that when you're choosing which one to buy or make, your choice is based on good solid information.
Our goal is to make you realize that the choices you make affects yours and your loved ones health.
Adding preservatives is usually unnecessary as lingonberries naturally contain benzoic acid which has a natural preservative effect.
Traditional lingonberry jam
Traditional lingonberry jam is actually quite easy and quick to make yourself. For a Scandinavian, it’s a “must have” for both meatballs and oatmeal. Boil the lingonberries with sugar and pour into clean cans and store cool.
The lingonberries contain the natural preservative benzoic acid so preservatives aren’t necessary to add. Whether you make it yourself or buy it, an unopened jam can last for a very long time. If you want to make your own lingonberry jam, we have a recipe a bit further down this article.
We have a recommendation for a traditional lingonberry jam in our Recommended By Care Omnia for Lingonberries page if you're interested in buying some traditional jam.But read the next part before you decide!
Raw-stirred lingonberry jam
As a compliment to the traditional lingonberry jam, do Scandinavians a special relationship to the raw-stirred lingonberry jam. Raw-stirred lingonberries are a very common variety of lingonberry jam, that you can find almost everywhere in Scandinavia. Especially in Sweden where you can find it in every store.
The raw-stirred lingonberry jam prepares with fresh lingonberries just by mixing berries and sugar together, without boiling.
Raw-stirred lingonberry jam has a long history. Before the use of refined sugar became common in Sweden, lingonberry jam was prepared with lingonberries as the only ingredient.
We have a recommendation for raw-stirred lingonberry jam in our Recommended By Care Omnia for Lingonberries page if you're interested!
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Lingonberry Health Benefits
Lingonberries are well known for their health benefits. They have lots of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. For example, proantocyanans, which are a part of the red dye in the berries.
Proantocyanans are antioxidants that help to protect and enhance our health.
Lingonberries also contain vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin E, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus. But also fibers that can help counteract high levels of cholesterol LDL, which is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
Scientists made a discovery in 2014 when they researched mice how eat lingonberries. They found that lingonberries inhibit the effects of fatty foods if the fat and lingonberries are consumed during the same meal.
We've written an article about that research and more of the health benefits of lingonberries if you would like to check it out.
You should be careful if you are about to heat lingonberries. It can destroy some of the nutrients contained in the berry. So, eating them raw, dried or in powder form is the best way to get all the goodness in the berry.
How Do You Maximize The Lingonberry Jam Health Benefits?
Traditionally a lingonberry jam is made of just lingonberries, sugar and maybe a bit of water. Then you boil it together. There are different views on how long to boil it but we recommend to cook the jam for as short as possible. Between 5 to 15 minutes should suffice.
It’s the cooking that destroys some of the nutrients in lingonberries. For instance, there is a lot of Vitamin C in lingonberries. But unfortunately, Vitamin C is heat sensitive. This means that if food keeps warm for a long time or heated repeatedly, the amount of vitamin C decreases.
In all cooking and heating, the nutritional content of the food is affected. Nutritional losses occur for various reasons. Mineral substances aren't destroyed, but leached in to the boiling water. Certain vitamins can be partially destroyed and leached while some vitamins are not at all affected by cooking.
For hundreds of years, lingonberry jam and lingonberry juice have been appreciated on the dining table and have always been an important part of the kitchen.
Because of the known nutritional value the lingonberries have been used for many different things.
For instance, I like to make a smoothie where I can mix lingonberries with other of my favorite berries or fruit. By varying the ratio of lingonberries and the other berries you can make a smoothie for every occasion!
We have a recipe of a delicious lingonberry and banana smoothie here , if you want to check it out!
According to Swedish scientists, if you want to eat healthy, nutritious and care about your figure, you should stay away from Lingonberry jam altogether. You should only eat fresh or frozen berries that haven’t been sweetened.
They have primarily two reasons for their recommendation
- When you make jam, you boil it, this can affect the content of the beneficial substances that you find in the raw lingonberries
- The jam contains a lot of sugar which is considered as empty calories
Frozen or fresh lingonberries are preferred if you want all the nutrients.
But, we know that it’s not impossible to make a healthier lingonberry jam which is not only delicious but also good for you!
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Raw-Stirred As An Alternative To Lingonberry Jam That Is Good For You
Raw-stirred lingonberries is a delicious and a healthier alternative to traditional lingonberry jam. It's very common in Scandinavia and quite easy to do yourself.
The raw-stirred variety is very popular in Sweden, almost more popular than the traditional jam. It does contain sugar but it often contains less sugar than the traditional jam.
The biggest advantage of the raw-stirred jam is that you do not cook the lingonberries. This means that all the nutrients of the lingonberries are still present in the raw-stirred lingonberry jam.
Some of the nutrients found in lingonberries are sensitive to heating. You cook the lingonberry jam, so there are fewer nutrients in traditional lingonberry jam than in raw-stirred lingonberry jam.
You can make raw-stirred lingonberry jam yourself. It’s very easy if you have some fresh or frozen lingonberries at home. If you want to try, you’ll find a recipe a bit further down in this article.
Where to buy Lingonberries and Lingonberry jam
If you lack the time or energy to make your own jam you can look at our Recommended By Care Omnia: Lingonberries page, where we recommend what kind of Lingonberries and other lingonberry products to choose, why we recommend them and also where to buy them.
Why Do They Add Sugar To The Lingonberry Jam?
The most common reason for having sugar in any jam is because it has a preservative effect.
The lingonberry naturally contains benzoic acid, which works as a preservative. So, for that reason it’s not that important to have sugar in lingonberry jam.
But there are other reasons for adding sugar to jam. The first reason is that the sugar does prevent yeast and mold fungi from developing.
The second reason is that the natural sweetness you can find in fresh berries, doesn't seem to cut it in the finished product.
Some seem to think the jam isn't sweet enough without sugar, and therefore won’t buy it.
This might be a direct result of manufacturers choosing to lower the berry content in the jam in favor for less expensive ingredients like water or apples.
Adding sugar is supposed to emphasize the aroma, preserve the color and give the jam its texture. I don't fully agree, true, sugar might be needed to some extent for the preservative effect but I buy jam and other products made of berries and fruits because I want the flavors of the berries themselves, not aromas or sugar.
But still the fact remains: There are no positive health effects of eating sugar.
Foods with a lot of added sugar often contain little nutrition. Then you get more energy than what you need. To limit their sugar intake is something most could benefit from. Sugar is "empty calories". If you eat enough or too much calories already, why not choose to eat food that does you more "good" per calorie?
How much sugar is there in Lingonberry Jam?
According to USDA is the daily intake of sugar for women about 25g and for men about 36g. For children does the intake level vary depending on their age and caloric needs, but range between 12 - 25 g per day. Children between 2 -18 years of age should consume less than 25g of sugar daily according to The American Heart Association (AHA) .
In the chart above you can clearly see the difference of sugar content in four different lingonberry jams.
We got the data from USDA food database and chose an ordinary lingonberry preserve, a wild naturally lingonberry jam, wild Swedish lingonberries stirred with sugar (raw-stirred) and a Scandinavian lingonberry fruit spread.
The sugar value does of course differ some between different brands in the same category.
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Recipes For Traditional Lingonberry Jam And Raw-stirred Lingonberry Jam
We always recommend that you make your own jam if you are able. That's always a better choice so that you can be sure that the jam you are serving your family is exactly what you want.
Here's two recipes on lingonberry jam for you to try out that we think are both easy to make and nutritious.
My Traditional Lingonberry Jam Recipe
Traditional Jam made of lingonberries can be made with less sugar.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Ingredients (About 20 servings)
- 4 cups fresh or frozen lingonberries, rinsed and drained
- 1 cup of water
- 1 cup of sugar
- Rinse the lingonberries
- Add lingonberries and 1 cup water in in a medium saucepan
- Set medium-high heat and bring to a boil
- Reduce heat and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes
- Remove from heat
- Stir in the sugar
- Cool and pour into clean jars
Done! You've made some delicious traditional Lingonberry Jam! Enjoy!
Recipe for Raw-Stirred Lingonberry Jam
Raw-Stirred Lingonberry Jam is both nutritious and easy to make!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Ingredients (about 20 servings)
- 18 oz lingonberries (5 dl)
- 5 oz of sugar (1.5 dl)
- Mix sugar and lingonberry in a bowl
- Stir until sugar has dissolved
Let it rest for a while (About 15 minutes) before serving.
Can You Find A Substitute For Lingonberry Jam?
Yes, there are several substitutes that you can replace your lingonberry jam with. One example is cranberry jam that is quite similar in taste. If you are interested in more alternatives, we've written an article on 11 substitutes for lingonberry jam.
The alternatives have shifting degrees of nutritional value and it might also be an interesting and educational read if you are in search of an alternative to lingonberry jam.
The article also contains recipes for all the alternatives if you like to make some yourself. One of the substitutes is of course cranberry jam.
Conclusion: We Recommend You Add Lingonberries To Your Diet Today
If you are looking for the healthiest lingonberry jam there is a few things you need to look for. You don't want any additives, you want to minimize the added sugar and if the jam is cooked, it should be cooked for as little time as possible.
Check out our Recommended By Care Omnia: Lingonberries if you want to be sure you're buying the best lingonberry products out there.
If you really want to take control over the lingonberry jam then I recommend that you do the jam yourself. It’s not that hard and it’s fun to do. Especially because when you are done, you know for sure how the jam was made.
And you know exactly what's in it! And, as you've made it yourself, it'll taste fantastic! Right?
If you feel the urge to jam yourself we've compiled a recommended page about making jam and the products that we believe are just right for making that delicious home-made jam.
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Frequently asked questions about Lingonberry Jam
What is lingonberry jam?
Lingonberry jam is a common everyday jam in Scandinavia. Lingonberry jam is traditionally prepared with lingonberries mixed with sugar and sometimes a little water. But the lingonberry jam that you buy almost always contain much more water than what's needed. Several manufacturers also put a lot of additives in the jam, such as thickener, preservative and citric acid.
Does lingonberry jam provide health benefits?
Yes, there are health benefits that lingonberry jam can provide to you. But there are a lot of different ways to make the jam which can eliminate a large part of the health benefits a well made lingonberry jam can provide. Lingonberries are well known for their health benefits. They contain a lot of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. We recommend to cook the jam for as short as possible. It’s the cooking that destroys some of the most beneficial nutrients in lingonberries. You might also want to consider not cooking your jam at all and instead make a raw-stirred lingonberry jam.
What does lingonberry jam taste like?
Raw lingonberries are a bit sour and tart in taste. Lingonberry jam is often sweeter and not quite as sour and tart in flavor as the fresh berry. The sugar in the jam cut of the edge of the flavor, but you can still taste it quite easily, in the jam. If you want the most lingonberry taste of your jam you should consider raw-stirred lingonberry jam. It’s not cooked and contains less sugar than the traditional one.
Is there a substitute for lingonberry jam?
Yes, there are several substitutes that you can replace your lingonberry jam with. One of the best examples is cranberry jam that’s quite similar in taste. But there’s also plenty of other alternatives that you can use in all sorts of dishes that traditionally are served with lingonberry jam.