Aronia melanocarpa is currently being touted in research studies as a berry with a high concentration of flavonoids and antioxidants recognized for medicinal benefits. This bountiful shrub was known to Native Americans for healing qualities. Yet, Europeans settling in the New World found the astringent taste of aronia to be less than desirable so the berry was coined the “choke berry” and they attempted to eradicate it. Fortunately the health benefits were not over-looked by all and extensive planting occurred in Europe and Asia with the resultant product used primarily in juice form. As a result of recent research into the nutritional and healthful value of the berries, the aronia plant has regained respect and interest in North America and production sites are expanding.
There are several cultivars of Aronia melanocarpa or Black Chokeberry. All are members of the Rosaceae (Rose) family. The main cultivars being grown for food production in the Midwest are ‘Viking’ and ‘Nero.” The berries can be canned or frozen whole and used in a wide variety of consumable products. Extracted juice is used for jellies, candies, beverages, frozen sorbets, wine and food coloring.
Further information about the Aronia melanocarpa plant can be found at the following USDA site: http://www.plant-materials.nrcs.usda.gov/pubs/ndpmcpg8351.pdf