In Sweden they have lingonberries, a wild berry that’s harvested in the Fall and used to make jams, jellies, syrup, and preserves. Nowadays most Americans have heard of them because of IKEA, but when I was growing up it was something only Swedish-Americans knew about. It was a great treat when we’d find the finished products in specialty shops.
When our Swedish ancestors came to America, they didn’t find lingonberries. But here in the West they found chokecherries, and that became the new thing. Another wild berry harvested in the Fall and used to make jams, jellies, syrup, and preserves. All-American, not just Swedish. When I was growing up we used to drive up to the mountains, to pick chokecherries in our customary spots. I think every family had it’s own preferred, not quite secret, spot.
In my family the special treat was chokecherry syrup on pancakes. Even after I left home, I was assured a steady supply of chokecherry syrup from Mom, and later from Lawrence, my step-father. I wish I had thought to take a jar of it to Cousin Jonas when he was here a few years ago.
Now sister Laura tells me lingonberries really do grow in North America, just not in our region of Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming. And, the American cousin of the lingonberry is the cranberry, not the chokecherry. The news comes too late to change the I see it. For me, chokecherries will always be our special native berry as well as the American substitute for our ancestral lingonberries.