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Aronia Berries: Foraging this Native Shrub

Aronia (Aronia melanocarpa) is a native shrub in the eastern part of the United States. It is also grown as ornamental shrub in many areas. This shrub produces a berry that has become popular in the past couple of years for it’s health benefits. It is sometimes called chokeberry. This common name gives a clue that the taste is not appealing when eaten raw, as the skin is bitter and astringent. This common name creates confusion. The confusion is with chokecherries, which are Prunus genus. In order to avoid this confusion, I prefer to call Aronia by it’s genus name. Because the skin of the Aronia berry is stringing, as are all of the plants in the Rosacea family, eating these raw is not appealing. If I eat them right from the bush, I typically squire the juice into my mouth.

As a forager one of the things I love about this berry is that it is a very efficient berry to harvest. I can harvest alot in a short amount of time. As an herbalist I appreciate the health benefits. The berries are high in antioxidants and they are low in carbohydrates.

I enjoy making juice, jelly, infused vinegar and freezing them. I add the frozen fruit to yogurt smoothies and to baked goods. An apple/aronia crisp is also a favorite.

Here is a recipe for delicious Jelly made with honey.

Aronia Berry Jelly (sweetened with honey)

8 cups of Aronia Berry Juice (you can extract the juice in a variety of ways, use a steam juicer, run the berries through a food mill, or a juice/apple press.)
½ cup of lemon juice
2 cups of Honey
8tsp Pection (I like to use Pomona’s Universal Pectin)
8 tsp calcium water (If using Pomona’s Pectin)
Prior to warming the juice, prepare jars if you plan to water bath can the jelly. Place jars in a canning pot, bring to a slow boil and then keep on warm. Place clean lids in a small pot and bring to a boil and then keep on warm, while you prepare the jelly.
1. Add lemon juice and calcium water to the juice.
2. Bring this mixture to a boil.
3. Mix honey with pectin
4. Stir the honey and pectin mixture into the juice mixture.

5. Bring the mixture back up to a boil
6. Pour the jelly mixture into the jars.
7. Be sure to clean the lips of the jars, using a canning funnel renders this process clean.
8. Place the warmed lid onto the jar loosely tightening the ring.
9. Place back in the canning pot. Be sure all the jars are covered with water.
10. Boil for 10 minutes, remove from pot and place on a counter, I typically put a towel down and put the hot jars on top of the towel.
11. Make sure the jars have sealed, label with name and date.
12. Enjoy!

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