June speaks of strawberries here in the Midwest. August speaks of aronia berries here on the farm. Never heard of aronia berries? Here’s the scoop:
Aronia berries, also called chokeberries, are native to North America but grown in many other countries. They grow on a tall bush that sports beautiful white flowers in the spring. They’re high in nutrition and antioxidants. But don’t think you can put them on your ice cream or make a cobbler – they’re much too astringent; besides being hard and solid, like a cranberry, they leave a dry taste in your mouth. BUT, they’re great for good health!
So how do you eat them? Here on the farm, I wash and freeze the berries in quart bags. Easy! Then I toss a handful of frozen berries into my fruit smoothie every morning to boost nutrition: every ounce of aronia berries provides 2 grams of protein, 2 grams of fiber, 12 grams of carbohydrate, 10% of daily value vitamin C, 9% of daily manganese, and 5% of daily value Vitamin K, as well as supplying folate, and vitamins A and E.
We also make juice for jelly: In a heavy saucepan, add the berries, cover with water and boil gently until they soften or burst. It’s similar to the way you cook cranberries. Press the cooked berries through a food mill and add the pulp to your compost pile. You can further clairfy the juice by filtering it through a jelly bag or tea towel (it will stain the towel!). One of our favorite winter jellies is a crystal clear, beautifully red aronia berry-cranberrry combination. Amazing flavor!
If you’ve tried acai bowls, why not go local and simply substitute your frozen aronia berries for acai powder or puree – you’ll get the same beautiful purple color and the flavor is similar. Great nutrition with low calorie count. And, it’s locally grown on small farms!
Check the internet for aronia berry recipes, and stop by our store for a bag of frozen whole berries. You’ll be glad you did!