Eating Aronia Berries

Aronia berries have the highest ORAC value of all known berries – so they must be good right? Read on and we will tell you what you need to know…. aronia bushesAronia bushes are big, beautiful plants. They are cold hardy and drought tolerant. Their leaves are a round, glossy, deep green. We have never watered or fertilized our aronia shrubs and they are semi-shaded by our house and a large birch tree. They don’t complain.  They do get large, however, and we prune them every fall. We grow the Viking variety.

We have eaten both the Viking and the Nero varieties. Raw – the viking is unpalatable. It’s dry, astringent and mealy. The Nero tastes considerably better but is still quite dry.

They can be made into juice or jam like any other berry. Here’s how we do it:

Step 1: Gather berries

Step 2: Wash the berries and remove the sticks, bugs, and any damaged fruit
aronia berries picked through

Step 3: Mash, cook and run through a foley mill or sieve through a cheesecloth.

Step 4: Process into jam or keep as a juice.

This was a very “bloody” project. Kind of like working with beets, but way more intense. The colors are quite vibrant.

Look what it did to my hands:

blue fingers

My  hands looked gangrenous or like I was severely low on oxygen. It lasted for one day. FYI – aronia juice/jelly/berries will also stain your teeth. It brushes right off, but be aware of it in case you interact with other people right afterwards.

If you want to drink the juice – I recommend a very small amount.

It’s good like a dark cherry juice, but not something you drink quickly or in excess. It’s sort of like a really dry red wine.

You can also freeze cubes of the juice for smoothies. We use these silicone ice cube trays for everything (freezing juices, broths, soups, smoothies, desserts). They are amazing.

Aronia is naturally high in pectin, so it makes a quick jelly without the need for pectin.

I eat the jelly on pancakes and with almond butter in sandwiches. It’s best mixed with something like almond butter because the jelly (like the juice and berries) is very mouth drying – like red wine.

Aronia is just one of the many edible plants we grow, but it’s not one of the ones we sell. We specialize in cold/drought hardy plants, but for edible plants we are picky.
The two available commercial cultivars – Nero and Viking – are barely palatable raw and even though they make a nice juice, it’s not fantastic. I would rather have wild black cherry  for an astringent juice. For a large edible shrub, I’d prefer the nannyberry. But diversity is good and if you have the space –  grow an aronia. They are beautiful.

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