This post, Aronia Plant Information | Unusual Things to Grow in Your Garden, provides you with plant care information and a recipe to create with your unique edible plant. When it comes to unusual things to grow in your garden Aronia ranks right up there with the best of them. Aronia (aronia melanocarpa), a member of the rose family, is a deciduous cold hardy shrub that lies in the shrub layer in a permaculture design. It bears fruit that is very astringent… so much so that it is also called chokeberry because the astringency makes you want to choke.
Aronia is native to eastern North America and hardy from zones 3 to 8, it prefers moist acidic soil and full sun. It is a multi-stemmed shrub ranging in height from 3 to 12 feet depending on cultivar. It has leaves that are alternate on the branches and they are 1 to 3 inches long and just under 1 inch up to 2 inches wide.
Aronia Plant Information
This attractive ornamental is a very showy plant with leaves that come out bright green in the spring, turn darker green as summer goes on and then turns bright red in autumn. In mid to late May it has fragrant flowers with five petals that give way to clumps of small astringent fruit as the summer passes. The fruit matures in August and is small black and glossy and has up to 5 small seeds inside.
As a unique edible fruit it can be used to make wine, jam, syrup, juice, soft spreads, tea, salsa, extracts, beer, ice cream, gummies and tincture. The fruit is said to have higher levels of antioxidants (anthocyanins and flavonoids) than any other temperate fruit. The flowers are bi-sexual and pollinated by small bees, meaning you do not need another aronia to produce fruit.
It is resistant to drought, bugs, and disease. However, it is a favorite of birds, white tail deer, rabbits and other animals. It appears to be the fruit that the animals are after, as I have not had issues with them eating my plants.
Propagation – Aronia Plant Information
Aronia spreads readily by cuttings or seed. In my propagation bed this year I had about 95% success rate for the cuttings and this will be one of the first types of plants offered for sale in the nursery. If you are going to plant the seeds, clean all of the pulp off and stratify for 2-3 months or plant in the fall.
There are many cultivars out there. I have McKenzie and Viking cultivars at my farm. McKenzie will grow from 6 to 12 foot high and is from the former Soviet Union and introduced in the US in 2008. Viking will grow from 3 to 6 foot high and is widely available, developed in Finland or Switzerland in 1980.
I have had great success with the Viking. In the second year of growing, it produced about two cups of berries. In the third year of growing it produced a gallon zip lock bag full. I enjoy the fruit fresh out of hand from the Viking. This year I set aside a gallon bag full of the fruit and froze it. I will can it using the recipe at the end of this article and will let you know how it turned out.
In reasearching this plant I ran across fresh frozen aroniaberry for sale on Amazon. They are selling a 32oz package for $19.95 + 9.95 S&H. As I looked further on Amazon, I found that they sell aronia concentrate, gummies, Juice, and facial cream. While this is an unusual fruit it is becoming more popular.
I found the below recipe online. I have credited the author with a link below the recipe:
GLAM Jam – makes four pints
2 US quarts fresh, ripe aronia berries, stemmed, picked over, washed and drained
1 US cup water
1 and 1/2 US cups of pure, grade B maple syrup
a four inch piece of fresh ginger root, peeled and finely grated
grated zest and juice of two large limes
jars for canning
Prep your canner and jars according to your favorite method. I use half-pint jars with two-piece lids and a boiling water canner. In a large pot, put the aronia berries and the cup of water over medium-low heat. Bring the water to a simmer and cook the berries, covered and stirring frequently, for ten to fifteen minutes. They will soften , release some juice, and lighten in color. Test a berry for doneness by chewing it to make sure the skins are tender. If not, keep cooking until they are. When the berries are cooked, get out your immersion or stick blender and have a go at the berries. This is a matter of preference. I usually blend mine about 50%.
You could make it very smooth or leave the berries whole if you prefer. Then add the maple syrup and ginger, mix, and bring it up to a boil. Boil for two or three minutes, then turn off the heat. Add the lime zest and juice and mix well. Ladle into jars and process. I did the half pints for ten minutes in the canner. Let the preserves sit at least overnight for the flavor to develop.
Aronia is a natural source of pectin, and you do not need to bring the jam to the setting point to get it to set, nor do you need additional sweetener or pectin. I’ve added the amount of sweetener I like, which is not very sweet, and the amount of ginger I like, which is a lot. Feel free to adjust the proportions to your own liking. Just keep the water and berry amounts the same and you should be fine to experiment.
Aronia Recipe from: https://aroniaberrytips.wordpress.com/2013/07/19/useful-tips-for-aronia-berries/
So remember, when it comes to unusual things to grow in your garden Aronia is an awesome choice for a showy edible arrangement in your yard.
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