You may be growing a black chokeberry, Aronia melanocarpa, in your landscape for its spring flowers, fall color and black fruit. But did you know those berries are nutritious and edible?
Aronias are considered a superfruit high in antioxidants and Vitamins C and K. Black chokeberry is used in food coloring and tea as well as syrups, juice, jams and wine. But before you toss back a handful of fresh berries, beware they are full of tanins that make them astringent and your mouth pucker – thus the common name chokeberry.
When fully ripe, black chokeberries do have the same sugar content as table grapes and sweet cherries. Wait until any hint of red is gone and the berries are dark black to harvest. If you like dry wine, you will enjoy the flavor. If not, try them frozen, cooked, fermented or made into jam, smoothies and baked goods.
A bit more information: Don’t mistake chokeberries (Aronia) for the native tree chokecherry (Prunus virginiana). This tree can grow 20 to 30 feet tall and its bitter fruit is used to make jellies, jams, and pie.
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