Where to find them
One reason I adore partridgeberries is because they are native to the two places I grew up: Finland and Newfoundland. The people of the Nordic countries in Europe will tell you these berries are called “lingonberries” in English; indeed, this is the more common name. Newfoundlanders, as they are apt to do, have slapped their own colourful moniker onto these little red delicacies, thus making them their own. The partridges that co-exist in the barrens love snacking on the little red berries, hence their Newfoundland namesake. But one thing we can all agree on - their scientific name: Vaccinium vitis-idaea. This name is the same wherever they grow, which is on headlands, heaths, and Arctic tundra throughout the Northern hemisphere.
Newfoundland is called “The Rock” for a reason - much of the island’s habitat consists of barrens where it seems all but the most stubborn patches of rocky soil have been blown off the face of the Earth. These barrens host a unique ecosystem and it’s one where partridgeberries flourish. Closest to St. John’s you’ll find sub-Arctic tundra perfect for the partridgeberry along the coastal barrens on the Southern tip of the Avalon Peninsula and Burin Pensinsula.
In the kitchen
The partridgeberry flavour is tart and sweet. The most beloved way to prepare partridgeberries is in jams and preserves. But their value in the kitchen doesn't end here; other common preparations include pies, tarts, and breads. They also make a killer sauce with wild game or fowl.
On the barrens
For the past several years during the Christmas break I’ve been heading to out the frozen barrens to hike the hills and pick partridgeberries. Below is a selection of photos from past trips to the Burin and Avalon Pensinsulas, which will hopefully inspire you to brave the cold and discover these sweet winter berries for yourself.
I'm Erik, the Burnt Chef. I'm a Finnish-born Newfoundlander living in Norway. I have a passion for cooking and a deep fascination for the culinary history of the North. Simplicity guides my cooking. Time, place, and history guide my storytelling. This is my personal blog about food.