Lingonberry is a tiny, round-ish red fruit typical from Northern European countries. It was used in the kitchen to bring out the flavor in both meat-based and veggie-based side dishes.
From meatballs to potatoes and even fish dishes, lingonberries and lingonberry jam are a staple of Swedish cuisine. Its sour flavor, with just a hint of sweetness, is able to oppose the savory of other food, offering an extraordinary combination of flavors and aromas.
As it needs cooler temperatures to grow, lingonberries are relatively difficult to find, so it might be possible you are going to need an alternative to use in your meal.
Therefore here is a comprehensive list of lingonberry jam substitutes that will taste as good, or even better, than the real deal.
The best substitute for lingonberry jam
Unless you live in a Northern European country such as Sweden, fresh lingonberries are a food that is incredibly rare to find.
Lingonberry jam, on the other hand, is slightly easier to encounter on supermarkets’ shelves or specialized shops, but it is not a simple quest either.
As a result, let’s say you are planning on making a very hearty meal like beef stew or meatballs. If you want to include something (not too) sweet to complement your food, you will need to find a valid replacement for lingonberry jam.
Lingonberry jam does not taste like your ordinary, sweet jam. On the contrary, this jam is actually quite sour and only has a hint of sweetness to it.
This particular feature makes it the perfect ingredient for your meals, rather than your desserts.
1. Cranberry sauce
The first, obvious lingonberry jam substitute is most likely cranberry sauce. It can be considered the American cousin of this typical Swedish food and it is easy to understand why.
As cranberries often have an acidic taste, cranberry sauce is usually sweetened before being cooked to get rid of any extra acidity.
If it is sweetened properly, it can be served not only with turkey, potatoes, or other types of savory foods but also as a dessert, paired with ice cream, pancakes, muffins, and much more.
2. Red and black currants
Similar to cranberries and lingonberries, red currants are tiny, spherical fruits that are famous for their tartness.
These berries are appreciated for their versatility, as they can be eaten raw, although they taste better with sugar powdered on top.
They can also be consumed during a meal, served with turkey, goose, or lamb, or served in desserts, like cheesecakes, cupcakes, and mixed fruit bowls.
Red currants’ plump shape, their bright red color, and their levels of acidity make them an excellent substitute for lingonberry jam.
Mind that if you want to make a red currant jam or relish, it is better to pick firmer, rounder currants and to wash them only when you are about to use them.
Do not store red currants in the fridge after you wash them as they might get ruined, turning soggy and squishy. That consistency is not ideal if you are planning on cooking them subsequently.
3. Black currants
Black currants are the sourest currants out there. Their dark color gives them a tartness that is not even comparable to red and white currants.
Thanks to their strong flavor, black currants also offer a valid alternative to lingonberries. Their unique tartness and distinct essence make it incredibly difficult for them to be eaten raw.
Like other berries out there, black currants are packed in antioxidants and vitamins, making them a superfood.
For those who enjoy this tiny, sour berry, it is possible to consume it in your drinks as well.
In fact, black currants can be added to your fancy drinks, like a Cosmopolitan or a Mojito, or even to top off your beer (it matches perfectly with a pint of Guinness!).
4. White currants
White currants are a little different from their red and black counterparts. They have a sweeter taste and their look kind of resembles that of white grapes.
Their sweet and mild flavor allows people to eat them raw, and this is probably the most diffused method to consume them.
But it is also possible to use white currants to make jams, syrups, jellies, and even wine! So if you are looking for a sugary alternative to lingonberry jam, it is perfectly fine to consider white currant is one of your options.
5. Apple sauce
This is a controversial statement: apple sauce provides a fantastic substitute for lingonberry jam.
Apple sauce possesses a completely different taste than lingonberry jam. In fact, it is definitely sweeter, and it has a radically contrasting color as well.
So why should you use it as a lingonberry jam substitute? First of all, apple sauce is normally used in savory recipes.
Apple sauce provides also a quite healthy substitute, as it is often sweetened with the sugars naturally contained in apples.
Another reason why it makes the perfect lingonberry jam alternative is due to how easy it is to retrieve apple sauce everywhere.
It does not matter where you are in the world, every supermarket or corner shop will have at least one variety or brand of apple sauce ready to be used.
If you do not feel like buying a ready-made one, then you can do it yourself at home. It merely requires two ingredients: apples and water!
When you cook your homemade apple sauce mixing these two ingredients, it is also possible to add some sugar to sweeten your sauce even more, but this step is optional.
It is best to cook apple sauce in big batches so that you can store it in the freezer and have it at home whenever you might require it.
Cloudberries are moderately difficult to find, and when you do manage to find them, they can be quite overpriced. But they represent a valid alternative to lingonberries.
This delicious fruit only grows in certain areas of the world, specifically in the arctic and immediately subarctic areas.
One flower only manages to grow one berry, therefore there are not many of these berries around, even during the best harvest season!
Their sourness makes them the most suitable alternative to match the lingonberry flavor. Their color is a little lighter though, a pale, pastel orange, due to the high concentration of vitamins C contained inside.
In fact, one cloudberry contains four times the amount of vitamin C an orange typically has. This makes them so healthy and beneficial for those who consume them.
Cloudberries are quite rare to find, and unlike apple sauce, they cannot be stored for a remarkably extensive time.
Storing them in a sealed container in a non-refrigerated area will make them last for 24 hours, or even less.
If you decide to store them in an airtight container in the fridge instead, that will give you at least a week, or sometimes a little more, to enjoy this tiny, orange delicacy.
7. Pomegranate molasses
Pomegranate molasses are absolutely fantastic to dress fancy salads, vegetarian and vegan dishes, and even meat-based meals.
It is derived from pomegranate juice. In fact, the juice is brought to a boil and reduced until it becomes these thick, tasty molasses, similar to balsamic.
Exactly like balsamic, pomegranate molasses possesses a tart but also sweet taste. This characteristic makes it an incredible alternative to lingonberry jam.
Although it is moderately popular in Middle Eastern cuisine, pomegranate molasses is quite easy to find everywhere, and it is as easy to make at home.
Not only is it excellent to go with meat and veggie meals, but it is also extremely popular among bartenders to create unique and delicious cocktails that have a peculiarly sweet and sour taste.
It is extremely critical to know how to recognize your berries before you decide to cook with them. Not all berries are innocuous and taste delicious.
Rowan berries are quite a tricky alternative because they have that tartness similar to lingonberries, but they are also exceptionally dangerous if eaten in the wrong way.
Rowan berries cannot be consumed raw. They might be harmful to humans as they are highly astringent. The good thing is, though, they are perfectly edible once they are cooked.
As a result, if you want to cook a homemade rowan berry jam, or if you are planning on buying a jar at your local supermarket, go for it.
It is not too challenging to find rowan berries jam in stores, but the berry itself is not so easy to find. Wild animals, and especially birds, are huge fans of these berries, making it difficult for harvesters to find good, firm, plump ones to use.
9. Raw stirred lingonberries
If you have a batch of lingonberries at hand, but do not know how to make a delicious jam out of it (or if you simply do not have time), raw stirred lingonberries are the perfect alternative to jam!
Raw stirred lingonberries (originally known as Råröda lingon) are a typical Swedish recipe that is amazingly easy to make.
All you require are lingonberries and sugar. Combine them together and stir thoroughly until the sugar has completely disappeared, dissolved into the berries.
No cooking is needed for this recipe, so once you are done stirring, just set them in an airtight container and keep them sealed and away from the light from 15 minutes to about 1 hour.
The longer you let them sit in their jar, the sweeter they will be. Once they are ready, you have deliciously sweet, raw stirred lingonberries to accompany your fantastic meal.
10. Lingonberries concentrate
Concentrates are extremely popular drinks in northern Europe. It comes in a bottle and might even look like fruit juice, but it is way stronger than that.
It is sweet, but generally, it is not as sweet as fruit juice and it is relatively difficult to drink on its own due to its pungent taste.
Lingonberries concentrate is enormously popular in Sweden and it is typically added to many drinks, both hot and cold.
It can be combined with water, to create a pleasant glass of fruity water, or it can be added to cocktails, sodas or more, to give them a fancy twist.
As lingonberries are appreciated for their tart taste, do not expect this concentrate to sweeten your drinks! It does contain sugar, but it normally preserves the natural sourness of the berry.
11. Lingonberry glaze
If you do have some lingonberries laying around in your kitchen, you should also try lingonberry glaze.
It has a syrupy texture, and it is sweeter than the raw berry. Thanks to its delicious flavor, it does wonders as a lingonberry jam substitute.
Add everything to a pot and cook at low to medium heat for about ten minutes, until the lingonberries have gone soft.
Take a clean glass jar and pour the syrupy content in there and allow it to sit for a few hours until it has cooled down completely.
Once it is prepared, you can add this syrupy glaze to your food such as turkey, beef stew and so much more.
12. Pickled lingonberries
If you cannot tolerate the sourness of these berries, another way to consume them is to pickle them.
This is another popular Swedish recipe that sweetens lingonberries and manages to preserve them for a remarkably prolonged time.
Pickled lingonberries taste amazing with Swedish meatballs (like the popular IKEA ones!), and with other types of meat.
The process to pickle your lingonberries is quite straightforward. Add some acetic acid, salt, cinnamon, sugar, water, carnation, and a bay leaf in a pot and let it boil for one or two minutes.
Take them off the stove and pour the boiling content over your clean lingonberries. Let it sit on the counter for about 8 hours before serving.
The mixture is going to taste delicious and incredibly sweet!
How to choose a lingonberry jam substitute
Determining the perfect substitute for lingonberry jam might be daunting, but it is not impossible.
There are tons of options for you to choose from, from pomegranate to cranberries, all the way to apple sauce.
If what you require is a lingonberry jam substitute for your veggies, you might want to go for pomegranate molasses.
Whether the meal is roasted roots, mashed potatoes, or simply a healthy, green, and mixed nuts salad, this sauce, similar to balsamic, will enhance its taste and represents a great addition to the whole meal.
If what you need is something to go with your desserts, then you might want to consider apple sauce. It is the sweeter option among the six, and it goes perfectly with cupcakes, pies, and cakes.
Cranberry sauce, any currants jam, and rowanberry jam are the best options if you want to serve them as a sauce or side to your main dish.
Whether there is meat, vegetables, or savory pastries, these sweet and sour jams and sauces will bring out the flavor of all your various dishes, making them absolutely irresistible.
If you do have lingonberries at home, but do not have time or means to make a jam out of them, you might want to consider pickled or raw stirred lingonberries, a lingonberry glaze or concentrate to go along with your food.