Organic Aronia Berries: A True Superfood

Aronia Berry is one of the newest buzz words when it comes to “superfoods” and healthy eating. Its recognition is definitely deserved and its remarkably quick appearance and growth in popularity is for very good reason. The aronia berries abundant concentration of antioxidant activity, high levels of flavonoids and anthocyanins and the healthy serving of fiber make it a great option to add to your diet.

North America is home to the organic Aronia berry and it has been used by Native Americans for hundreds of years before becoming commercially cultivated at the turn of the century. The berry is commonly known by its less-appetizing name: “chokeberry”. As part of its transition to front running player in the super food’s market, its genus aronia melancorpa has become its branding name. According to CBS news, in the last five years, it is estimated that over 440 new products with Aronia berry as the primary ingredient have been introduced worldwide.

The berry itself has a dry, slightly sour flavor that is both strong and sweet, so it is sure to add a kick to your snack or baked goods. The most common organic Aronia berry is the black variety, versus its sweeter sibling the red Aronia berry. The dark berries are a deep shade of purple and about the size of a blueberry. In its natural environment, the hardy Aronia berry is resistant to most diseases and pests and is a popular choice for edible landscaping because the deciduous shrub is quite attractive. The berries themselves have a strong, stable natural color and are excellent when preserved by drying. The aronia berry requires a damp acidic soil and a substantial amount of rain during its growing season. Harvest takes place in fall and dried aronia berries can be purchased year-round and are well adapted to a variety of uses and recipes.

Some of the organic Aronia berry’s health benefits have been appreciated for hundreds of years by Native Americans. The berry’s traditional use was a tea to treat and cure common colds because of its high vitamin C content and anti-viral properties. According to research published by the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry in 2013, “the [Aronia] berry has some of the highest antioxidant values ever recorded, including superfoods such as blueberries, acai berries and goji berries.” Aronia berries are indeed an antioxidant powerhouse and boast high levels of anthocyanins and flavonoids. In addition to the disease-fighting properties found in organic Aronia berries, the tasty gems also pack a good serving of fiber, an essential macro-nutrient. A 100g serving of dried Aronia berries has 16.9g of fiber.

A recent article in Mother Earth News cites the data behind the high measurements of antioxidant activity in the Aronia berry. “ORAC, Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity, is the method used to measure the antioxidant capabilities of biological samples such as fresh fruits and vegetables. ORAC value recorded for organic Aronia is about 58 percent higher in antioxidant levels than blueberries and over 90 percent more than cranberries.”

There are many ways to enjoy aronia berries and you’ll find a few recipes to enjoy below. Dried berries can be added to granola, muesli and many baked goodies. You can also make an herbal tea by infusing crushed, dried aronia berries in hot water. According to a study by European Food Research & Technology in 2005, “whole Aronia berries have a higher antioxidant activity than Aronia berry juice.”

Enjoy the Aronia berry fresh when its harvest time and throughout the year by stocking up on dried berries!

Aronia Berry Syrup Recipe – from Mother Earth News

7 cups Aronia juice
½ cup lemon juice
1 package pectin
6 cups granulated sugar

Wash fruit and cover with water; simmer 15 minutes. Strain juice. Measure juice into a 6- to 8-quart kettle. Add pectin and stir. Bring to boil, add sugar, stir and bring to a roiling boil. Boil exactly 2 minutes. Skim and pour into jars.

Aronia Berry Bread Recipe – from Mother Earth News

2 cups flour
1-½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 egg 1/8 cup shortening ¾ cup orange juice 1 cup sugar 1 cup Aronia berries or 1 cup Aronia juice 1 cup chopped nuts (such as almonds or pecans)

Sources:

“Aronia berry: Rebranding help a new superfood catch on”; CBS News; July 14, 2014
“Aronia Berries: The Local Acai Berry Alternative” by Jennifer Kongs; Mother Earth News, September 2, 2010
“Aronia Berries: What are Aronia Berries?” by Jolinda Hackett;
https://vegetarian.about.com/od/glossary/qt/Aronia-Berries
https://www.healwithfood.org/health-benefits/aronia-berries
https://extension.wsu.edu/maritimefruit/reports/pages/aronia01.aspx