Black Chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa)

Black Chokeberry

Aronia melanocarpa

The name, Chokeberry, might suggest you should leave this plant alone but in fact there’s no need! I happily stumbled upon this plump little berry in mid August and glad I did. The dark purple, almost black clusters of fruit hang on a stout deciduous shrub. Showy white flowers bloom in May, following the antioxidant-rich berries in late summer. Oh, did I mention the tartness? These berries are so very tart and bitter tasting, one may “choke” by accident while sampling.

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Aside from being rich in vitamin C, these berries are known to offer a range of health benefits related to oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is when DNA-damaging free radicals overwhelm the body’s ability to neutralize them. Chokeberries provide a powerful antioxidant that knocks out these free radicals. Not to mention her antioxidant capacity outweighs that of Elderberry and Wild Blueberry!

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Keep in mind the research is spotty and the general public just isn’t that interested in a super tart berry…yet!

What’s not to love about this tart little berry?

  • Can be grown easily in your yard

  • Easy to pick

  • One shrub offers plenty of fruit

  • Delicious when sweetened

  • Becomes sweeter when frozen

  • Blends well with other berries and fruit such as cherries, strawberries, peaches, pears, and so on

  • Few pests bother it

  • Good for the body and soul

What to do with her beautiful berries once you meet them?

  • Jam

  • Jelly

  • Pie

  • Syrup/Sauce

  • Add to desserts – cookies, bars, bread

  • Smoothies

  • See a trend? Sweeteners. You may want to add some sweetness to tone down that tartness

  • Look and enjoy this beautiful plant

  • Decide to plant one in your yard

I happen to gather a small amount, leaving enough for the birds but just enough for me. I didn’t have enough for jam, jelly, pie, and so on but I did have enough to dehydrate.  I placed a handful or two in my dehydrator at 135 degrees F for about a day and a half.  The berries are most definitely still bitter tasting, which I personally enjoy. I plan to save them for the winter months when we may need an extra boost of vitamin C!

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What a wonderful treat!

Cheers

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