Common Name aronia berry
Origin North America
Moisture wet to mesic
Aronia (aka chokeberries) are deciduous shrubs in the family Rosaceae, native to eastern North America and most commonly found in wet woods and swamps. The genus is usually considered to contain two or three species, one of which is naturalized in Europe.
Chokeberries are cultivated as ornamental plants and as food products. The berries can be eaten raw off the bush but are more frequently processed. Chokeberries can be found in wine, jam, syrup, juice, soft spreads, tea, salsa, chili starters, extracts, beer, ice cream, gummies and tinctures. The name "chokeberry" comes from the astringency of the fruits, which create a sensation making your mouth pucker.
The fruit should be fully ripe before being eaten and is best after a frost or two. It makes a good jelly when sugar is added and is also dried and used for making pemmican. The fruit is rich in pectin and can be added to fruits that are low in this substance when making jams, etc. Pectin is also said to protect the body against radiation. The fruit is generally about 9mm in diameter, some varieties offering better size fruits than others.
Aronia melanocarpa (black chokeberry) has attracted scientific interest due to its deep purple, almost black pigmentation that arises from dense contents of polyphenols, especially anthocyanins. Total anthocyanin content in chokeberries is 1480 mg per 100 g of fresh berries, and proanthocyanidin concentration is 664 mg per 100 g. Both values are among the highest measured in plants to date.
The plant produces these pigments mainly in the skin of the berries to protect the pulp and seeds from constant exposure to ultraviolet radiation. By absorbing UV rays in the blue-purple spectrum, pigments filter intense sunlight and thereby have a role assuring regeneration of the species. Brightly colorful pigmentation also attracts birds and other animals to consume the fruit and disperse the seeds in their droppings.
A test tube measurement of antioxidant strength, the oxygen radical absorbance capacity or ORAC, demonstrates chokeberry with one of the highest values yet recorded—16,062 micromoles of Trolox Eq. per 100 g. ORAC, however, is considered biologically irrelevant to human nutrition.