Wednesday, March 9, 2011

How to use aronia berries

      You can use aronia berries in many different ways.  You can grow your own aronia plants in your home garden and harvest your own aronia berries.  The berries will be ripe in late summer or early fall.  Then you can pick the berries and eat them  fresh off the bush either raw or processed in many different ways.  You can also dry or freeze the berries for later use.  Fresh, dried, or frozen aronia berries can be used in many different ways.

     If you don't want to do it yourself, then you can purchase many different commercial products made from aronia berries.  There are several ads on this website for businesses that sell aronia berry chews, powders, supplements, and dried or dehydrated aronia berries.  When you try these products you may be surprised to find out how easy it is to get the remarkable health benefits of aronia berries in your daily diet.

     To view aronia recipes posted on other websites, click on the photos in this post or the word "recipes" in this sentence.  For a few more recipes click here.

Aronia bread, wine, soap, jam, & hand cream

      I use aronia berries and aronia products in many of my favorite fruit-containing recipes.  I completely or partly replace the fruit called for in the recipe with aronia berries or aronia products.  You can do that too.  Your “new” creation will taste great!  And when you include aronia berries, you will get their health benefits too!

      I will admit that my cooking skills are somewhat limited.  So far in my life, the total number of homemade pies I have made is two!  The first one I made from scratch was way back when I was in college.  I knew it was a flop because the only person who would eat it was my mother!  She thought everything I did was great!

      A few months ago during the holiday season, I made my second pie.  It was an aronia berry pie and it was much better than my first pie.  The reason I know it was at least satisfactory is because most members of my family ate at least one slice.  Even my mother-in-law Dorothy said it was good!  (To read more about her and her very interesting posts, visit her blog entitled Thrive at Living Alone.)  

Dorothy holding my aronia berry pie
December 29, 2010

      I think my third pie will also be an aronia berry pie.  I’m planning to take Dorothy’s advice and tweak my recipe slightly to make my third pie even more delicious!  On-the-other-hand, I might make a pie from one of the pie recipes in the aronia cookbook, A is for Aronia, by my friend Cheryl Saker.  To view and then purchase a copy, click on the ad near the bottom of the column on the right.

        Pies are not the only thing you can make with aronia berries.  You can use them like you use any other fruit.  You can eat them fresh (or frozen) in hot breakfast cereals, salads, jelled dishes, with meats, or you can use them in many other ways.  This includes using them in baked goods such as pies, bread, muffins, cookies, pastries, and cakes Aronia fruit or aronia fruit juice can be used to make  jams, jellies, sauce, toppings, gravysyrup, icing, candy, salsa, barbecue sauce, ketchup, and to flavor and color yogurt, sorbet, ice cream, milk, vinegar, and other productsThe berries can also be used to make tea, juice, smoothies, and stand alone aronia wine or blended with grapes or other fruits such as elderberries.  The wine shown below is called Eldaronia.  It is a blend of elderberry and aronia berry wines.

Aronia grower Claude Nicholson 

      Or you can purchase many kinds of aronia products already made.  Just click on the ads for any of the aronia products on the right.  To purchase a bottle of  aronia berry wine, visit the website of White Headed Robin Winery or visit the winery (shown in the photo below) located in Viborg, South Dakota.

White Headed Robin Winery
(Click on photo above.)

      One of the first retail businesses to sell aronia berries and products made from them is Mae's Health Solutions.  Their products are for sale on the Internet and at more than 40 locations in the United States.  Click on their ads on the right to view and then purchase their products.
Ken Sailors, Mae’s Health Solutions Plus
8909 H Street, Omaha, Nebraska

     You can also grow your own aronia berries.  Several of the ads on the right sell aronia plants.  Some or all of the berries can be left on the plants and used to provide food for songbirds in mid- to late-winter.  Aronia plants also look great and they are easy to grow in the home landscape and in wildlife plantings or windbreaks.

      But, in my opinion, aronia berries are too good to let the birds have them all but you may want to share some of them with the songbirds that visit your garden.  So, if you haven’t tried aronia berries yet, you should do so immediately.  If you already use them, then please share your experiences and your recipes.  To see photos of other uses of aronia berries click here.  Post your comments in the box below.

      Thank you,
      Dr. Eldon Everhart

P.S. -- To learn more about aronia, visit our website Everhart Horticulture Consulting.


  1. I commented about how I like aronia berry jelly in a different post but I think the comment might be even more appropriate here:

    "I think my favorite aronia berry food so far is the jelly. Just take some whole grain bread, omega3 enhanced peanut butter and aronia berry jelly and you've got an awesome snack that has fiber, protein, omega 3's, and antioxidants. Plus, it's yummy!"

  2. Hello Aronia lovers! We have just harvested a ton of berries from our 3-year old bushes--one nero and one dwarf aronia. Can anyone share a good jelly or jam recipe?
    Wendy & Jonathan

  3. Hi All,
    We've juiced most of our aronia berries this year, got about 13 qt off the one bush. I'm planning to use the dehydrator on the remaining robust crop.

    Tell me if you enjoy dried aronia berries, just as you would cranberries??

    And here's the really big question. What are the nutritional advantages of juice -vs- dehydrated? I can see some pros and cons each way, would like to get an expert nutritional opinion.

  4. I'd really like to learn how to use Aronia berries in salves and hand creams. Has anyone done this? Where could I find recipesetc. Thanks!

  5. Holly,
    Several websites sell cosmetics that contain aronia but their recipes are most likely proprietary. However, there are recipes for homemade fruit-based salves and hand cream. Several of these recipes are available to the public. Here are a couple of websites with such recipes.
    You might try substituting aronia berry juice, powder, or concentrate for the fruit listed in these recipes. However, be aware that the dark purple anthocyanins pigment in aronia berries may stain your skin and other surfaces. Let me know if this helps.
    Dr. Eldon Everhart

  6. Dear Dr. Everhart,

    I just picked some berries from my backyard but I don't know if I can eat a 'whole' berry or have to remove the seed or expectorate it.
    Please help me with this.


    1. Peter,

      You can eat aronia berries whole without removing the seeds. The species Aronia melanocarpa and some the cultivars have one to five very small seeds per fruit. The seeds are the same dark purple color as the flesh and the juice. You probably will not even notice the seeds when you eat the fruit.

      Viking, Nero, and several other aronia cultivars have a high degree of parthenocarpy. This means that they set fruit without pollination or fertilization and, consequently, most of the fruit is seedless or only contain one or two seeds.

      Dr. Eldon Everhart

  7. Dr. Eldon,

    Thank you so much for your FAST answer! Mine are Aronia Arbutifolia, bright red berries common in Connecticut, but I haven't had the time to look to see what the exact seed situation is but for only 2 bushes, they are really productive.

    I'm going follow your blog and web site as of this moment. It is hard to believe something I purchased for wildlife is so good for humans as well.

    Thank you again,

  8. " You probably will not even notice the seeds when you eat the fruit."

    You were exactly right; they seem seedless. Also, they taste good, not bitter/pungent etc.


  9. My brother recommended I might like this web site. He was entirely right. This post actually made my day. You can't imagine just how much time I had spent for this info! Thanks!

  10. How do you know when Aronia berries are fully ripe?

    1. When to harvest aronia berries depends on how you intend to use them and the risk you are willing to take with birds eating them. If you want your berries to develop the highest sugar content, then you will need to leave them on the plant longer. But birds also like sweeter berries and you might inadvertently share some berries with the.

      If you are willing to pay $25 to $100, you could buy a hand-held refractometer to measure the sugar content of your berries. If you are a commercial aronia grower, a refractometer is an essential piece of equipment.

      If you only have a few aronia bushes, then you can just taste a few berries and judge their sweetness. Harvest them when they are sweet enough for you and after they are dark purple (almost black). Sweetness and color are subjective.

      In other words, just use your common sense to decide when your berries are ready to pick. They might not all be at their peak of ripeness at the same time. Most people use the “taste test” to tell when to pick apples, apricots, peaches, tomatoes, etc. You can do the same thing with aronia berries.

      Dr. Everhart

    2. Thank you so much, I have access to a very large aronia berry bush and have never harvested them before.

    3. Please make absolutely sure that your bush is an aronia bush. There are some lookalike shrubs that also have dark purple berries that are either poisonous or they are not edible.

      Dr. Everhart

    4. Hi, what are the aronia look alikes and how can you tell them apart. I found what I was sure are aronia berries on an island off the caost of Maine but the seeds are tan, not dark purple so now I am wondering if it could be a look alike plant . . .

    5. I do not know any plants that have tan seeds or fruit. There are many plants that have dark purple fruit. Some of them look similar to aronia fruit. Never eat anything that you have not identified accurately. Some plants have poisonous fruits and/or poisonous seeds..

  11. Thank you for the warning. This aronia bush is growing the demo garden at the nursery where I work :)

  12. Hello, How do I harvest aronia berries so that I don't damage the plant? Should I use scissors?

  13. Hi Wendy,

    You can use both of your hands to pull handfuls of berries off of the plants' stems. The berries grow in clumps, so its easy to grab a handful and just pull them off. This will not damage the plant. If you don't want your hands to be stained purple, then use rubber gloves.

    Tie a small container, such as a plastic ice cream pail, around your neck and pick with both hands at the same time. This will be almost twice as fast as picking the berries with one hand and holding the container with your other hand.

    Dr. Eldon Everhart

  14. I picked some black chokeberries off a bush right after the first frost, I was told that they would be sweeter but theses are bitter, pungent and astringent. The garden service man that runs his own company told me the bush was a Aronia melanocarpa that the berries are the chokeberry. I enjoy to make jams from different berries and love to experiment with wild berries. I just finished making garden huckleberry jam and I think they are both similar in taste and looks.
    I would like to know if they really require that much sugar in a recipe to make them sweet for jam (6c/sugar). Are here pictures of the ones You should NOT eat?
    Thank You So Much For Your Help.
    From Minnesota

    1. Foods that have pH lower than 7 are acidic, those with a pH higher than 7 are basic or alkaline, and a pH of 7 is neutral. The lower the pH, the more acid the food is and the more natural sugar content or added sugar it will take to counteract the sourness.

      Listed below are a few acidic foods and their approximate pH levels
      Cola pop (2.3)
      Cranberries (2.4)
      Lemons (2.4)
      Aronia berries (3.5)
      Apples (3.6)
      Oranges (3.9)
      Tomatoes (4.5)

      Fully ripe aronia berries have a relatively high natural sugar content. They do not need as much added sugar, for example, as lemon juice (when making lemon aid) or cranberries but about the same a apples (for apple sauce or an apple pie).

      However, the astringency of aronia berries cannot be counteracted by adding extra sugar. You either like the mouth-puckering effect of aronia berries (and dry wines) or you don't like it. It is an individual taste preference.

      Also, not all aronia berries have the same composition. Their chemical make-up (pH, sugar content, tannin content, etc.) may vary depending on the cultivar (variety), degree of ripeness, and other factors.

      Dr. Everhart