Aronia berries (chokeberries)

 

Jaimie Sweetman is Head Gardener of the Edible Forest located on the Yarra Valley Estate in Dixons Creek. Tours of the Edible Forest, often led by Jaimie, take place on all days except Sundays – read more and book your place on a future tour.

For the month of July I couldn’t go past the aronia berries, probably because the red variety is still hanging on the tree through winter looking stunning.

The common name for aronia berry is chokeberry because they can be quite astringent with a sharp drying affect in your mouth. But don’t let this deter you as they are packed full of nutrients, with more antioxidants than blueberries. The health benefits include anti-cancer, anti-diabetic, organ health, artery and blood vessel health. They are also packed full of vitamins and minerals.

Aronia berries are really hardy in our climate, having originated in North America and being grown extensively in East Europe. There are three species:

  • Aronia melanocarpa (aka Photinia melanocarpa), black chokeberry.
  • Aronia arbutifolia (aka Photinia pyrifolia), red chokeberry.
  • Aronia prunifolia (aka Photinia floribunda), purple chokeberry

We have the black and red species in the Edible Forest and are in the process of acquiring the purple species.

The black species fruits first and has more astringent qualities but we find that this species is the best for using in recipes. Some recipes we have made so far include a vinaigrette, cordial and (when mixed with blueberries) a great jam! Once cooked, the astringency goes away and the flavour is quite nice.

The red species fruits much later and holds onto the shrub through winter. It is much less astringent and can even be eaten raw with ease. It also puts on a great autumn colour show.

I’m looking forward to working with the purple species and seeing the differences.

I would definitely recommend this hardy unique shrub in any Melbourne garden, especially for those that like to preserve and be more self-sustainable.

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