Super foods are very much in demand by everyone interested in nutrition. Berries, of course, are all famous as super foods. Many of them taste great and they provide us with important health benefits. Aronia berries, pictured growing at our local community garden, are the queen of super berries and one of the stars of the August garden.
According to the USDA, Aronia berries have the highest antioxidant score of all berries tested! (1) They are also high in fiber and vitamins C and K, (2) as well as iron. (3) Aronia berries health benefits have been well researched. The studies indicate that they may be healthful for people suffering from many different conditions. Whether you are looking for preventative foods to reduce your chances heart attacks or cancer, lower your cholesterol, help lower elevated blood sugar, improve and heal the digestive system, reduce inflammation, slow or reverse weight gain, and improve the immune system, (1) Aronia berries might be just what you need. No single food, however, is a cure all. But making good food choices is certainly a good idea.
While you may not have heard of these rare berries before, they are native to the North Eastern United States and range up into Canada. They prefer cool moist climates, thus thriving here in Pacific County. They are easy to grow, can be started from cuttings or divisions, and they don’t require any supplemental irrigation here in the Willapa Harbor area. They are vigorous, however, and need room to stretch out, or careful attention to pruning.
Growing Together Community Garden members; Fransisco Valencia, Edna Garcia, and Norma Tapia, as well as their children love our Aronia berries as you can see. They have also been the members providing the Aronia berry shrubs with their care this year; resulting in berries that are three times as large and twice as sweet as ever before.
Now you’re wondering what those blueberry look-a-likes taste like, aren’t you? They taste like a cross between blueberries, cranberries, and pomegranates. Some people like them right off the bush, and some find them to be a little bit strong flavored and a little bit puckery. But most of us wouldn’t enjoy a cranberry straight out of the bog either. Aronia berries do well in jams, sauces, and pies, mixed with other fruit, and tossed into smoothies, pancakes, and muffins. If you search the internet you will find many recipes. Here’s a great page to get you started, ‘Aronia Berry Love and Six Recipes:’ http://deeprootsathome.com/aroniaberry-love-and-6-recipes/
You can taste test Aronia berries at the community garden on the corner of Adams and Water Street in South Bend any Tuesday between 4:15 and 6:00 PM. The garden is also open for at least an hour on Saturdays beginning at 10:30 AM. Those who like the berries can help prune in the fall and take home cuttings to start for their own yards. If you don’t have room, you might want to ask about a garden membership. The garden doesn’t have any openings right now, but there may be an opening or two in the near future. For more information contact the garden coordinator, Harvest McCampbell, at (360) 934-5792 or (707) 834-2985.
Published in the Willapa Harbor Herald on 8.3.16, reprinted here with permission. All rights reserved.
Note to readers: I have been the coordinator of Growing Together Community Gardens for about a year and a half. It keeps me very busy. :) You can check out our photos and posts on our facebook page. Thanks!