Rårörda lingon are a popular accompaniment to main courses in Sweden, especially some of the classic Swedish dishes such as köttbullar (meatballs), äggkaka (egg cake), kåldolmar (stuffed cabbage rolls), stekt strömming (fried Baltic herring) and raggmunkar (potato pancakes). They are made by adding sugar to the berries and stirring them until it dissolves.
Lingonberries grow in the wild in Sweden on small bushes in woodlands and on moorlands. They ripen in August and September when many Swedes pick their own berries, but they are also sold at markets. Although the berries look attractive they are not pleasant to eat raw as they are quite bitter.
Rårörda is really two words joined together: rå means raw and rörda means stirred.
Preparation: 5 minutes (spread over one day)
100g (4oz) lingonberries, fresh or defrosted
at least 50g (2oz) caster (superfine) sugar
Note: The quantities above are sufficient for four servings, but I usually make a larger batch. Simply weigh your lingonberries and add half their weight in sugar initially. For example, if you have 900g (2lb) of lingonberries you will need to start with 450g (1lb) of sugar.
1. Pick over the berries to remove any leaves or twigs, rinse them and then drain them so the berries are reasonably dry.
2. Weigh the berries and put them in a bowl or a jar.
3. Add 50 percent by weight of caster sugar. Stir or shake every now and again until the sugar has all dissolved, which might take a day or more. Have a taste and add a little more sugar if desired, but avoid adding so much sugar that it will not dissolve. Some people squash some of the berries with the back of a spoon to release some of their juice to make it easier to dissolve the sugar, but I try to avoid doing this as I think rårörda lingon looks better with as many whole berries as possible.
4. Store until required in sterilized jars. Sterilize jars by washing them in a dishwasher or by putting the rinsed jars in an oven at 125C for 10 minutes. Let the jars cool before filling them.
– Fresh lingonberries are currently available in many supermarkets in Sweden. I'm from the UK and have never seen fresh lingonberries for sale there, but you can often find frozen lingonberries for sale in specialist stores or online.
– Rårörda lingon will keep almost indefinitely thanks to the high level of benzoic acid in the berries which acts as a natural preservative. However, the colour will fade after a couple of months, so it is best not to keep them too long.
– Keep rårörda lingon in a cool dark place, such as in a fridge.
– Lingonsylt (lingonberry jam) keeps better, but the texture and flavour is not quite as good.
– Ikea sells lingonsylt, but not rårörda lingon.
Recipe published courtesy of John Duxbury, founder and editor of Swedish Food.