Harvest date affects aronia juice polyphenols, sugars, and antioxidant activity, but not anthocyanin stability.

Food Chem. 2015 Nov 15;187:189-96.
The goal of this work was to characterize how the date of harvest of 'Viking' aronia berry impacts juice
pigmentation, sugars, and antioxidant activity. Aronia juice anthocyanins doubled at the fifth week of
the harvest, and then decreased. Juice hydroxycinnamic acids decreased 33% from the first week, while
proanthocyanidins increased 64%. Juice fructose and glucose plateaued at the fourth week, but sorbitol
increased 40% to the seventh harvest week. Aronia juice pigment density increased due to anthocyanin
concentration, and polyphenol copigmentation did not significantly affect juice pigmentation.
Anthocyanin stability at pH 4.5 was similar between weeks. However, addition of quercetin, sorbitol,
and chlorogenic acid to aronia anthocyanins inhibited pH-induced loss of color. Sorbitol and citric acid
may be partially responsible for weekly variation in antioxidant activity, as addition of these agents
inhibited DPPH scavenging 13-30%. Thus, aronia polyphenol and non-polyphenol components
contribute to its colorant and antioxidant functionality.
Aronia berry (Aronia mitschurinii ‘Viking’) inhibits colitis in mice and inhibits T cell tumour necrosis
factor-α secretion
Derek A.Martin ab1 Joan A.Smyth cd ZhenhuaLiu e Bradley W.Bolling ab1
Journal of Functional Foods
Volume 44, May 2018, Pages 48-57
Aronia berries are rich in polyphenols with anti-inflammatory activity. We hypothesized that aronia
berry consumption modulates intestinal immune function and T cells. The aims of the present work
were to assess the immunomodulatory potential of ‘Viking’ aronia berry (black chokeberry, Aronia
mitschurinii) in vivo and to determine the extent aronia berry polyphenols or known microbial
polyphenol catabolites inhibit T cell tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-α in vitro. Aronia berry consumption
increased colonic IL-10 secretion in healthy mice, but did not inhibit ex vivo cytokine secretion of
lipopolysaccharide-stimulated spleen and colon tissue. Aronia berry consumption inhibited wasting
associated with T cell adoptive transfer and dextran sulphate sodium induced colitis. Aronia extracts,
neutral phenols fraction, and the polyphenol catabolites 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid and 3,4-
dihydroxyphenylpropionic acid inhibited TNF-α production in Jurkat T cells. Therefore, T cells and
microbial catabolism partly mediate the anti-inflammatory effects of aronia consumption in the colon.
Anti-inflammatory effects of aronia extract on rat endotoxin-induced uveitis.
Ohgami K 1 , Ilieva I, Shiratori K, Koyama Y, Jin XH, Yoshida K, Kase S, Kitaichi N, Suzuki Y, Tanaka T, Ohno
Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2005 Jan;46(1):275-81.
Aronia crude extract (ACE) with high levels of polyphenol compounds has been reported to have
antioxidative effects in vitro and in vivo. In this study, attention was focused on the antioxidant effect of
ACE. The purpose of the present study was to investigate the effect of ACE on endotoxin-induced uveitis
(EIU) in rats. In addition, the endotoxin-induced expression of the inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS)
and cyclooxygenase (COX)-2 proteins was investigated in a mouse macrophage cell line (RAW 264.7)
treated with ACE in vitro, to clarify the anti-inflammatory effect.

EIU was induced in male Lewis rats by a footpad injection of lipopolysaccharide (LPS). Immediately after
the LPS inoculation, 1, 10, or 100 mg ACE or 10 mg prednisolone was injected intravenously. After 24
hours, the aqueous humor was collected from both eyes, and the number of infiltrating cells, protein
concentration, nitric oxide (NO), prostaglandin (PG)-E2, and TNF-alpha levels in the aqueous humor
were determined. RAW 264.7 cells treated with various concentrations of ACE were incubated with 10
mug/mL LPS for 24 hours. Levels of NO, PGE2, and TNF-alpha were determined by an enzyme-linked
immunosorbent assay. The expression of iNOS and COX-2 proteins was analyzed by Western blot
The number of inflammatory cells, the protein concentrations, and the levels of NO, PGE2, and TNF-
alpha in the aqueous humor in the groups treated with ACE were significantly decreased in a dose-
dependent manner. In addition, the anti-inflammatory effect of 100 mg ACE was as strong as that of 10
mg prednisolone. The anti-inflammatory action of ACE was stronger than that of either quercetin or
anthocyanin administered alone. ACE also suppressed LPS-induced iNOS and COX-2 protein expressions
in RAW 264.7 cells in vitro in a dose-dependent manner.
The results suggest that ACE has a dose-dependent anti-ocular inflammatory effect that is due to the
direct blocking of the expression of the iNOS and COX-2 enzymes and leads to the suppression of the
production of NO, PGE2, and TNF-alpha.

Extracts, anthocyanins and procyanidins from Aronia melanocarpa as radical scavengers and enzyme
Bräunlich M 1 , Slimestad R, Wangensteen H, Brede C, Malterud KE, Barsett H.
Nutrients. 2013 Mar 4;5(3):663-78.
Extracts, subfractions, isolated anthocyanins and isolated procyanidins B2, B5 and C1 from the berries
and bark of Aronia melanocarpa were investigated for their antioxidant and enzyme inhibitory activities.
Four different bioassays were used, namely scavenging of the diphenylpicrylhydrazyl (DPPH) radical,
inhibition of 15-lipoxygenase (15-LO), inhibition of xanthine oxidase (XO) and inhibition of α-glucosidase.
Among the anthocyanins, cyanidin 3-arabinoside possessed the strongest and cyanidin 3-xyloside the
weakest radical scavenging and enzyme inhibitory activity. These effects seem to be influenced by the
sugar units linked to the anthocyanidin. Subfractions enriched in procyanidins were found to be potent
α-glucosidase inhibitors; they possessed high radical scavenging properties, strong inhibitory activity
towards 15-LO and moderate inhibitory activity towards XO. Trimeric procyanidin C1 showed higher
activity in the biological assays compared to the dimeric procyanidins B2 and B5. This study suggests
that different polyphenolic compounds of A. melanocarpa can have beneficial effects in reducing blood
glucose levels due to inhibition of α-glucosidase and may have a potential to alleviate oxidative stress.

Consumption of chokeberry (Aronia mitschurinii) products modestly lowered blood pressure and
reduced low-grade inflammation in patients with mildly elevated blood pressure.
Loo BM 1 , Erlund I 2 , Koli R 3 , Puukka P 4 , Hellström J 5 , Wähälä K 6 , Mattila P 5 , Jula A 7 .
Nutr Res. 2016 Nov;36(11):1222-1230.
Previous studies suggest that consumption of chokeberries may improve cardiovascular disease risk
factor profiles. We hypothesized that chokeberries (Aronia mitschurinii) have beneficial effects on blood
pressure, low-grade inflammation, serum lipids, serum glucose, and platelet aggregation in patients with

untreated mild hypertension. A total of 38 participants were enrolled into a 16-week single blinded
crossover trial. The participants were randomized to use cold-pressed 100% chokeberry juice (300 mL/d)
and oven-dried chokeberry powder (3 g/d), or matched placebo products in random order for 8 weeks
each with no washout period. The daily portion of chokeberry products was prepared from
approximately 336 g of fresh chokeberries. Urinary excretion of various polyphenols and their
metabolites increased during the chokeberry period, indicating good compliance. Chokeberries
decreased daytime blood pressure and low-grade inflammation. The daytime ambulatory diastolic blood
pressure decreased (-1.64 mm Hg, P = .02), and the true awake ambulatory systolic (-2.71 mm Hg, P =
.077) and diastolic (-1.62 mm Hg, P = .057) blood pressure tended to decrease. The concentrations of
interleukin (IL) 10 and tumor necrosis factor α decreased (-1.9 pg/mL [P = .008] and -0.67 pg/mL [P =
.007], respectively) and tended to decrease for IL-4 and IL-5 (-4.5 pg/mL [P = .084] and -0.06 pg/mL [P =
.059], respectively). No changes in serum lipids, lipoproteins, glucose, and in vitro platelet aggregation
were noted with the chokeberry intervention. These findings suggest that inclusion of chokeberry
products in the diet of participants with mildly elevated blood pressure has minor beneficial effects on
cardiovascular health.

Research on various food processing methodologies

High pressure processing (HPP) of aronia berry puree: Pilot scal processing and a self-life study
BoYuan ab Mary-Grace C.Danao ab MeiLu a Steven A.Weier b Jayne E.Stratton ab Curtis L.Weller ab
Innovative Food Science & Emerging Technologies
Volume 47, June 2018, Pages 241-248
Aronia berry puree was subjected to 400 and 600 MPa, 5 min high pressure processing (HPP)
and then microbial shelf-life and quality changes of aronia puree during 8-week refrigerated
storage were evaluated. HPP reduced the aerobic plate counts (APC) significantly and APC
changed insignificantly during the 8-week storage. HPP completely inactivated yeasts and
molds, and no regrowth was observed during 8-week storage. In contrast, yeasts in untreated
puree increased from 4.7 to 6.1 log CFU/g. Physicochemical properties, total phenolic contents
and antioxidant capacities of aronia puree had insignificant changes right after HPP and during
8-week refrigerated storage. Total anthocyanin content of untreated samples and those treated
at 400 MPa decreased continuously during the storage. HPP, especially processing at 600 MPa
for 5 min, could be an effective preservation technique for microbial population reduction,
quality retention, and shelf-life extension of aronia puree.
Industrial relevance
The growing demand for minimal processed and antioxidant-rich aronia berry products has
stimulated the interest of food industry. Industrial sector demands methods to extend the
microbial shelf-life and maintain its quality and nutritional values of aronia berry products
during refrigerated storage. The results of this study demonstrated that HPP is effective in
extending the microbial shelf-life, maintaining the quality and preserving the bioactive
antioxidants of aronia berry puree during 8 weeks of refrigerated storage.
Characterisation of Aronia powders obtained by different drying processes.
Horszwald A 1 , Julien H, Andlauer W.
Food Chem.
2013 Dec 1;141(3):2858-63.
Nowadays, food industry is facing challenges connected with the preservation of the highest
possible quality of fruit products obtained after processing. Attention has been drawn to Aronia
fruits due to numerous health promoting properties of their products. However, processing of
Aronia, like other berries, leads to difficulties that stem from the preparation process, as well as
changes in the composition of bioactive compounds. Consequently, in this study, Aronia
commercial juice was subjected to different drying techniques: spray drying, freeze drying and
vacuum drying with the temperature range of 40-80 °C. All powders obtained had a high
content of total polyphenols. Powders gained by spray drying had the highest values which
corresponded to a high content of total flavonoids, total monomeric anthocyanins, cyaniding-3-
glucoside and total proanthocyanidins. Analysis of the results exhibited a correlation between
selected bioactive compounds and their antioxidant capacity. In conclusion, drying techniques
have an impact on selected quality parameters, and different drying techniques cause changes
in the content of bioactives analysed. Spray drying can be recommended for preservation of

bioactives in Aronia products. Powder quality depends mainly on the process applied and
parameters chosen. Therefore, Aronia powders production should be adapted to the
requirements and design of the final product.

High pressure processing (HPP) of aronia berry purée: Effects on physicochemical properties,
microbial counts, bioactive compounds, and antioxidant capacities
BoYuan ab Mary-Grace C.Danao ab Jayne E.Stratton ab Steven A.Weier a Curtis L.Weller ab MeiLu b
Innovative Food Science & Emerging Technologies
Volume 47, June 2018, Pages 249-255
The effect of high pressure processing (HPP) at 200 to 600 MPa for 2.5 or 5 min on
physicochemical properties (color, pH, titratable acidity, total soluble solids content/TSSC, pulp
content, particle size distribution, and viscosity), microbial counts (aerobic bacteria, yeast and
mold counts), bioactive compounds (total phenolic and anthocyanin contents), and antioxidant
capacities (DPPH radical scavenging capacity and ferric reducing antioxidant power) of aronia
berry purée were investigated. All measurements were compared between HPP treated and
untreated purées. TSSC and viscosity decreased significantly when pressurized above 400 MPa
for 2.5 min and at all HPP conditions, respectively. Other physicochemical properties changed
insignificantly after HPP. Pressurization at 400 and 600 MPa both effectively reduced yeasts and
molds to below 1 log CFU/g, and reduced aerobic bacteria to <2 log CFU/g only when
pressurized for 5 min. No significant reduction in phenolic contents or antioxidant capacities in
pressurized purée was observed.
Industrial relevance
Purée is a feasible form of aronia berry used as food product, considering the astringent taste
of whole aronia berry. The results of this study suggest that HPP will significantly reduce the
microbial counts of aronia berry purée, while retaining antioxidant capacities and most
physicochemical properties of aronia berry purée. The outcomes could help the food industry
apply HPP to the commercial production of aronia berry purée-based food products to meet
the quality standards with safety ensured.

The influence of different the drying methods on chemical composition and antioxidant activity
in chokeberries
JustynaSamoticha a AnetaWojdyło a KrzysztofLech b
LWT – Food Science and Technology
Volume 66, March 2016, Pages 484-489
Drying has been long known and widely used method of food preservation. The aim of this
study was to determine the effect of different drying methods (by freeze-drying (FD), vacuum
(VD), convective drying (CD), microwave (VMD) and combined method (CVM)) on the quality
factors of chokeberry fruit, including phenolic compounds, antioxidant activity, and color. All
products were characterized by water activity which determines their storage stability. The
highest content of bioactive compounds and antioxidant activity were determined in freeze-

dried samples, compared with fresh fruits (total phenolic in gallic acid equivalents-
8008 mg/100 g dm, anthocyanins- 3917 mg/100 g dm). The increase in air temperature during
CD as well as the increase in material temperature during VMD deteriorated dried product
quality in terms of the content of phenolic compounds, antioxidant activity, and color, which
was correlated with anthocyanin content. A new combined CVM method allowed obtaining
high quality dried material compared to the CD and VMD methods applied separately. The
drying process affected changes in the appearance and brightening of color, and also increased
the contribution of yellow color in the fruits. The results show that the quality of dried
chokeberry depends on the method and conditions of fruit drying.

R.W. Knudsen Family® celebrates the Simplicity of Summer with Just Juice Line

CHICO, Calif., June 24, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — The R.W. Knudsen Family® Just Juice products deliver full fruit flavor and uncompromised taste for consumers that want just the best. These single-fruit, unsweetened, 100 percent juices provide delicious flavor because they’re made with juice concentrates.

Click here to view full story

Farm Bill Funding Available to Organic Producers and Handlers

Click here to view full article at

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that approximately $13 million in Farm Bill funding is now available for organic certification cost-share assistance, making certification more accessible for small certified producers and handlers.

“Consumer demand for organic products is surging across the country,” said Secretary Tom Vilsack. “To meet this demand, we need to make sure that small farmers who choose to grow organic products can afford to get certified. Organic food is now a multi-billion dollar industry, and helping this sector continue to grow creates jobs across the country.”

The certification assistance is distributed through two programs within the Agricultural Marketing Service. Through the National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program, $11.5 million is available to all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and five U.S. Territories. Through the Agricultural Management Assistance Organic Certification Cost-Share Program, an additional $1.5 million is available to organic operations in Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming.

These programs provide cost-share assistance through participating states to USDA certified organic producers and handlers for certification-related expenses they incur from October 1, 2013 through September 30, 2014. Payments cover up to 75% of an individual producer’s or handler’s certification costs, up to a maximum of $750 per certification. To receive cost-share assistance, organic producers and handlers should contact their state agencies. Each state will have their own guidelines and requirements for reimbursement, and the National Organic Program (NOP) will assist states as much as possible to successfully implement the programs. State contact information can be found on the NOP Cost Share Website, www.ams.usda.gov/NOPCostSharing.

In 2012 alone, USDA issued close to 10,000 cost-share reimbursements totaling over $6.5 million, to support the organic industry and rural America. Additional information about resources available to small and mid-sized producers, including accessing capital, risk management, locating market opportunities and land management is available on USDA’s Small and Mid-Sized Farmer Resources webpage.

USDA has a number of new and expanded efforts to connect organic farmers and businesses with resources that will ensure the continued growth of the organic industry domestically and abroad. During this Administration, USDA has signed four major trade agreements on organic products, and is also helping organic stakeholders access programs that support conservation, provide access to loans and grants, fund organic research and education, and mitigate pest emergencies. Through the NOP, USDA has helped organic farmers and businesses achieve $35 billion annually in U.S. retail sales. The organic community includes over 25,000 organic businesses in more than 120 different countries around the world.

This funding announcement for organic certification cost-share assistance was made possible by the 2014 Farm Bill. The Farm Bill builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past five years, while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for taxpayers. Since enactment, USDA has made significant progress to implement each provision of this critical legislation, including providing disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; strengthening risk management tools; expanding access to rural credit; funding critical research; establishing innovative public-private conservation partnerships; developing new markets for rural-made products; and investing in infrastructure, housing and community facilities to help improve quality of life in rural America. For more information, visit www.usda.gov/farmbill.
– See more at: http://www.nutraceuticalsworld.com/contents/view_breaking-news/2014-07-22/farm-bill-funding-available-to-organic-producers-and-handlers/?email_uid=83eff20bf6/list_id=396c189146/#sthash.2RdBUGyM.dpuf

Cicada Damage

MAA Members reporting Cicada damage to Aronia plantsCicada Damage

A couple of days ago, an MAA member from Leon, IA reported damage to her Aronia plants:

The 17 year brood of cicadas in the area was the suspected culprit.
Another member (St. Charles, IA) with similar cicada damage to his plants replied with this source: http://www.gardenersnet.com/atoz/cicada.htm. It appears to have very good coverage of the basic topics relating to cicada infestation, life span, reporting, siting data (http://www.gardenersnet.com/atoz/cicada-watch-sighting-2014.htm), recommended prevention, etc. According to the source, the best protection is ¼” netting wrapped all around the tree or bush. Mature trees are not often affected negatively, but younger plants can experience severe damage, since the female creates a slit in the branches (1/2” or less in diameter) to lay eggs, which subsequently weakens the branch, causing breaks and possible plant death.
This member estimates a 15-25% yield loss due to cicada damage and believes his 4-year plants will survive, but that first and second year plants may experience some plant morbidity.
Northern Illinois may be spared from periodic (13 or 17 year cycle cicada broods) this year. A Crete, Illinois member offered this link explaining the periodic infestation and its impact on northern Illinois:
MAA would like members to contact us to report your experiences with cicadas this year and what type and of damage you may be experiencing along with the extent of that damage.
Please email Scott Boersma, scottboersma47@hotmail.com with whatever information you may have regarding cicadas in your area.

Thank you,
MAA Board

Wisconsin Ag News Headlines: CAFES Honors UW-RF Faculty Member

A professor of horticulture and state extension commercial fruit specialist has been honored with the 2014 Outstanding Faculty Award by College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. Brian Smith was recognized during the group’s recent annual awards banquet. It’s the highest award bestowed upon a faculty member in the college.

The awardee is also honored nationally with the Teaching Award of Merit from the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture in recognition of meritorious efforts in college teaching.

Since arriving at UW-RF in 1988, Smith has held a split appointment: 67 percent teaching in the horticulture program and 33 percent Cooperative Extension to support commercial fruit growers in the state. Over the years, he has taught eight different horticulture courses, including a general education course he co-developed, ‘Plants and Society.’ He has an active fruit research program and engages students in his work, teaching them the methodology of research.

Smith’s fruit research program focuses on the development and evaluation of new fruit cultivars hardy enough for the upper Midwest. Smith is a co-developer on seven patented raspberry cultivars, the sole breeder of the BlackIce plum, and has several strawberry, plum, and apricot selections in the plant patent pipeline. He has also initiated an Aronia melanocarpa (chokeberry) breeding program. Aronia is native to Wisconsin and is a new fruit crop for the state. His research work has attracted nearly $900,000 in extramural funding over the years.

As an extension specialist, Smith develops and delivers educational and research presentations to a diverse client base including growers, master gardeners and extension colleagues.

Thinking Inside The Box: Packaging Produces Sales For Waterford Winery

Kent Marrs’ Village Winery and Vineyards near Waterford isn’t your typical Loudoun winery. Here you’ll find ample use of elderberries and fruits as main ingredients, but it is also the packaging of the varied treats that sets the operation apart from its peers.

Village Winery is the first in Loudoun to move entirely to box, rather than bottle, packaging for its wines, fruit teas and syrups.

As Marrs tells his customers, he brings together “Old world winemaking and 21st century wine packaging.”

It has been more than a year since Marrs dispensed with glass bottles and opted for boxes with plastic liners and dispensers—for all his products. The walls of the tasting room are now lined with rows of white boxes bearing the Village Winery and Vineyards logo. So far, Marrs has found box packaging to be safer, cleaner, more convenient and less expensive. Most importantly, the change has resulted in boosted sales, he said. By lowering his production costs significantly, Marrs can offer his boxed wines at lower prices. A 3-liter box of reds, for example, retails for $35. His apple wines retail for $30.

Marrs, whose day job is working in the Loudoun County Department of Transportation and Capital Infrastructure, started his winery in 2005, and quickly expanded to include berry products, grown on the farm, starting with elderberries. He has 10 acres under production.

His products include mostly red French Vinifera wines; fruit wines including apple wine; raspberry apple wine and the Triple Threat apple/raspberry/elderberry wine; and fruit teas, elderberry and aronia (chokeberry); and an elderberry vinaigrette. The sweetness of the elderberry syrup makes for a good topping to pancakes, cheesecake, ice cream, yogurt and desserts. The fruit teas are diluted with water, as is the elderberry syrup, but coming soon will be a line of ready-to-go drinks. “People like the fruit teas, they’re direct, like sodas,” he said. The aronia component has proved to be a successful addition, as it is not as strongly sweet as the elderberry.

That elderberry and aronia are the most popular offerings at the winery, pleasing customers with the lightly astringent taste and the health values of the two berries that are very high in antioxidants. “We’re tapping into people’s desires for healthy drinks,” Marrs said.

The raspberry apple and Triple Threat trio wines also are popular, especially for what Marrs terms a refreshing patio drink. Of his reds, he sells a red blend, petit verdot, cab franc and merlot. New releases include elderberry apple wine coming in May, and, in June, an elderberry and aronia tea with lemon, to give it a slightly tangy finish, in a 24-ounce bottle that makes 4.5 quarts. In October, Marrs plans to release an elderberry and aronia syrup as well as restock the popular elderberry vinaigrette.

Recognizing people’s wish for increasing convenience, late this year Marrs plans to begin introducing 20-ounce ready-to-go drink versions of the teas—elderberry and aronia, elderberry and aronia with lemon, and an elderberry and aronia sport drink. Also in that batch, Marrs plans to introduce a 5-gallon bag-in-box package of elderberry and aronia tea for commercial carbonated beverage dispensers.

“Switching to box packaging has been a boon, I can save so much cost in packaging,” he said. “It’s absolutely airtight, stays fresh—and my sales are up five-fold,” Marrs said.

He said he was surprised to find the wine gets better as it sits in the bag, rather than suffer oxidization as in an opened bottle. “That’s because the bag shrinks as you drink it down, and no air gets in,” Marrs said.

A single box holds the same amount as four bottles, so three boxes equal a case of wine. Using boxes, Marrs can sell reds for the equivalent of $8 a bottle—far less than good local wine sells in glass.

To the best of his knowledge, Marrs is the only Virginia vintner using exclusively boxes and bags. “I’m not saying it’s right or wrong, it’s different,” Marrs said of his approach. “What I am doing is still emphasizing the wine-making operation, but I’m putting it in an economical package and making it convenient.”

The winery is located at 40405 Brown’s Lane in Waterford. Hours are 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and noon-6 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call 540-882-3780 or email info@villagewineryandvineyard.com.

Posted: Wednesday, April 16, 2014 By Margaret Morton Leesuburg

Leesburg Today

19 N. King St.

Leesburg, VA 20176


Leesburg Today534e93fdddd6d.preview-300



The gospel of Aronia

Luken: More antioxidants than blueberries and pomegranates

March 14, 2014

By JOLENE STEVENS – Farm News staff writer (grovecorner@aol.com) , Farm News

AKRON – Mary Luken said she’s one to often look for ways to make an extraordinary experience out of the ordinary.

“I began thinking about the recipes (people) might be interested in,” she said, “and what I could do to make them more interesting and easy to prepare.”

The Lukens planted hundreds of aronia bushes along side the apple trees in the farm’s Blue Bird Orchard.

“Considering it likely a lot of people haven’t become accustomed to using aronia berries,” Luken said, “I had the opportunity to help people add variety to recipes and at the same time do something different.”

Aronias are sometimes referred to as a chokeberry due to its tart taste, Luken said. It continues to gain in popularity as a fruit with antioxidant properties twice of cranberries and four times that in pomegranates, strawberries, goji berries and blueberries.

A U.S. National Library of Medicine study scored the dark purple berry with high marks for its value in helping overcome “oxidative stress diseases” in some types of cancer, cardiovascular disease, chronic inflammation and liver function.

Luken launched into a monologue she said she’s given to customers at Akron’s farmers markets.

“I suggest to everyone they keep (the aronias) in the freezer and remove as needed,” she said.

The most common uses, she said, include eating them fresh by themselves or as a fruit added to yogurt, smoothies, oatmeal, cold cereal, pancake batter, muffins, apple sauce, apple pie or apple crisp.

The first of several guests Luken invited for a taste-testing party was neighbor Pat Benton, who uses aronias in her kitchen. She was followed by Chase Hoffman and Jacob Bergman, both Akron-WestfieldHigh School seniors, who work in Luken’s Blue Bird Orchard and berry patch.

Bergman said he and Hoffman were introduced to aronia berry smoothies during work breaks at the farm.

“We’ve made them before, for members of our football team,” Bergman said. “It was fun – even if we did break the blender in the process.”

Benton provided jars of homemade aronia berry salsa and aronia berry-jalapeno jelly. The jelly was spread on crackers, and the salsa was poured into a bowl.

Luken dished up the dessert – aronia berry applesauce; from the oven came the hot dish – ham balls, sans aronia.

The recipe, she said, “was given to me by a friend of my mother’s. It’s been a favorite of our children and grandchildren.

“I’ve also learned if you know how to make the ham balls you never have to take anything else to the church potluck. They’re something everybody likes.”

Luken said her mother didn’t enjoy cooking. Sunday dinners after church were eaten out, she said, “and the rest of the day we were on our own.

“I was an only child and Mother was happy to let me play in the kitchen. All I wanted to do was cook, and she’d let me make all kinds of things for instance, chocolate pudding, before the box kind, that would boil over on the stove and burn the bottom of the pan.

As a teenager, Luken most often served up such meals as tomato soup and grilled cheese.

She eventually came across a Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book that she still consults. Its worn pages showing years of long-time use.

“I’d say this cookbook is what actually taught me the basics of how to cook since then,” she said.

Luken said her enthusiasm for being in the kitchen was passed onto her children, Helen and Rustin, who live in Colorado; along with four granddaughters.

“The girls like to set the table when they come to visit,” Luken said, “and help in the kitchen.

“The first thing we do in the morning is to make a grocery list for the day and go to (a local grocery store) after breakfast to get what we need.

“They like to help me fix the meal. I enjoy having them do this and feel if they have ownership in what they’ve made they’re going to like eating it.”

Aronia berry smoothie

(Serves two)

1/2 very ripe frozen banana

2 cups orange juice

1/4 cup aronia berries (can add a spoonful or two of fruit jam.)


Apple-aronia sauce

8 cups chopped apples, (peel may be left if preferred)

4 tablespoons of frozen, condensed orange juice

1 cup water

1/2 to 1 cup sugar (or per taste)

Bring above to a boil and simmer 15 minutes. Add 1 cup aronia berries and simmer 1/2 hour or until sauce is done.

Apple-aronia crisp

(Can also prepare with peach sauce)

Put 6 cups sliced apples into a 9-by-12-inch baking dish.

Add1/2 cup orange juice and 1/2 to 3/4 cup of aronia berries.

Mix in separate bowl:

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup butter (softened, not melted)

3/4 cup flour

When crumbly, add 1/2 to 1 cup oatmeal and sprinkle over top of apples.

Pour mixture over apples.

Bake 35 minutes in 375-degree over.

Serve as is, with whipped cream or ice cream.

Mary’s ham ball favorite

3 pounds ground pork

2 pounds ground ham

4 beaten eggs

1 cup milk

4 cups bread crumbs

Beat eggs. Add milk and stir. Add bread crumbs and let sit a minute or two.

Add meat, mixing well. Make into golf ball-size rounds placing them side-by-side in baking dish.

Bake uncovered for 1/2 hour in 325-degree oven.

Prepare ham ball sauce mixing 1 cup vinegar, 3 cups brown sugar, 1 cup water and 2 tablespoons dried mustard.

Cook over low heat until vinegar and sugar are dissolved. Do not boil.

Pour sauce over ham balls and bake an additional 1/2 hour.

519918_1 519918_2 519918_3 519918_4

Hardy Perennial Plant Suggestions for your Acreage or Small Farm


Big Picture Agriculture

March 20, 2014 K. McDonald

There is a very remarkable nursery in Northeastern Nebraska, near the farm where I grew up, called HH Wild Plums Inc. It was founded by the famous (but not as famous as he should be) horticulturalist plant finder, Harlan Hamernik. He passed away tragically in 2012, and I wrote up a brief tribute to him here.

Though Hamernik introduced many new plants to the gardeners across the U.S. over his lifetime, he focused in his later years on neutraceuticals, or, healthy edibles and medicinals, some of which were used by Native Plains Indians. Especially, this interest was from those sources which were in the form of perennials, shrubs, and trees – something the Midwest is not known for in our current day and age, but were key to the health of the nomadic tribes which preceded us.

Today, I interviewed Tammy Melcher of “HH Wild Plums” to get an update on this nursery which was founded by Harlan Hamernik for the purpose of promoting sales and the popularity of these hardy edible plants which he studied and discovered. She and plant propagator-grower, Lori Pfeifer, are instrumental in their small operation.

My impression of Harlan from personal experience, was that he was an incredibly intuitive plantsman, so readers, pay attention.

First, I asked Tammy to list five plants and a couple of trees that she would recommend to farmers/landowners who would like to incorporate edible or medicinal perennials into their farm, either as a hobby, or as a value-added crop or food product. Note that this list works in Nebraska, but most of these plants are extremely hardy and would grow well in much of the U.S., especially the Midwest and Upper Midwest.

Here is her list:
1. Aronia (8-10′ shrub)
2. Crandall’s Clove Currant (6×6′ shrub)
3. Redleaf Rose (7×7′ shrub)
4. Elderberry (7×7′ shrub)
5. Serviceberry (10×10′ shrub)
6. Tree: American Hazelnut (18′ tall)
7. Tree: Dwarf Chinkapin Oak (10-15′ tall)

There was no doubt that Tammy was most enthused about the Aronia plant which produces the common named “chokeberry”. She’d just returned from an Aronia conference in Omaha, and the awareness of this plant is catching on a bit, but, she said, “ninety percent of the public doesn’t know about it.” In general, the dark blue, purple and black berries contain high levels of antioxidants, making them superberries, or superfoods. We all know that blueberries are a superfood, but, according to Tammy, the Aronia berry contains three times the amount of antioxidants that blueberries do. (Note there is a current question about the benefits of antioxidants in this past year’s news and studies.) Indians used these berries as an ingredient in Pemmican. High tannin levels make these berries tart, thus the name “chokeberry”. The bright side of this is that birds tend to leave them alone, as opposed to other berries which you need to cover with netting, or pick before the birds do.

Incidentally, Tammy was not aware of sending Aronia plants to Colorado, and thought they would do very well here on the front range, so Colorado readers take note.

Three varieties of Aronia which Tammy recommends are Black Aronias: Aronia melanocarpa ‘Galicjanka’; Aronia melanocarpa ‘Viking’; and, Aronia melanocarpa ‘McKenzie’. ‘Galicjanka’ is a cultivar from Poland which tolerates drier soil conditions; ‘Viking’ is from Scandinavia and produces very large fruits; and, ‘McKenzie’ was produced at North DakotaState which has extra-large berries, and is drought and cold tolerant. These shrubs need chill hours so don’t grow in the South. They are drought tolerant once established, and they produce beautiful fall color.

Aronia berries are used in smoothies, salsas, jellies, breads and muffins, and for wine. A supplement form is available which uses a powder to create an extract. A company in Omaha, named “Superberries” owned by Kenny Sailors, uses Aronia berries to make products such as gummy chews, frozen berries, and concentrate. Also, according to Tammy, the Black Squirrel Winery in Council Bluffs, Iowa, makes a great wine using Aronia berries.

The next shrub on Tammy’s list is Crandall’s Clove Currant, or Ribes odoratum ‘Crandall’. This shrub also produces a black medicinal berry which is high in antioxidants and polyphenols. This grows in rich well-drained clay soil to plant hardiness zone 4.

The Redleaf rose is a beautiful hardy shrub rose producing a hip rich in Vitamin C. I have personally grown this in my yard and love the iridescent blue-green sheen to its leaves. If you grow it, as an added bonus you will occasionally have a volunteer pop up in your yard. Also, Rosa Pomifera, or the apple rose, is a good hardy choice which produces good fruit. One can make tea from the rose hips of either plant.

Elderberries, or Sambucus species, are another hardy shrub which produces a black berry that is high in Vitamin C and antioxidants. These grew wild when I was a child and I used to help my grandmother pick them to make jelly. I’ve personally picked them from road ditches to make a pretty darn good pie, if you don’t mind the seeds. Even better, you can make a combination berry pie such as elderberry-cherry. Elderberries grow across the U.S., but are less drought-tolerant.

The Serviceberry, or Amelanchier canadensis, produces large black berries that are loved by both humans and birds. They make delicious jams and pies. A good variety is alnifolia ‘Parkhill’ which is a dwarf.

Next, the two trees on Tammy’s list.

The American Hazlenut is formally named Corylus Americana. It is a small tree which produces an edible nut. It likes afternoon shade and requires two trees for nut production.

The Dwarf Chinkapin Oak is a great native shrub oak. By 3-4 years of age, it produces a nut which is valued by wildlife. These nut producers are about 15-18 feet tall, but can be trained shorter. Hamernik would collect this tree’s seeds from the wild, as is true of many of the plants which Wild Plums sells.

HH Wild Plums Inc. has a great catalogue online plus, they will be happy to send you a nice spiral bound hardcopy, such as the one I have lying next to my computer as I type this. There are many, many more varieties of trees and shrubs, along with unusual varieties of perennials, annuals, and vines available from their nursery.

If you have a favorite hardy native edible, please let us know about it in the comments.

Photo credit: Purple Aronia berries, by Konjica.