Aronia is a gorgeous small shrub, more tree-like in shape, that produces heavy crops of dark blue fruit. The berries resemble blueberries, but are not nearly as sweet. They are however packed full of nutrients and a great addition to the homestead. The foliage turns a brilliant scarlet in the fall, making is as pretty as it productive.
I harvested our one small shrub recently, which is self-fertile, as it was bending over from the weight of fruit. Our hot August days were starting to crinkle and dry the fruit, so I had to harvest it all quick! Some were a little dry, but still tasty enough to save. The berries don’t come off the plant easily, so I used scissors to cut the clusters off. To process them, I washed the fruit and carefully separated berries from stems.
The total weight came in around five pounds – not a bad haul for one small plant. I decided to preserve them all by freezing them. Since they are not very sweet, I am planning to mix half blueberries and half aronia in smoothies this winter. That should give us a nice, nutritious start to the day using homegrown goodies.
A tip for freezing berries: lay them out on the cookie sheet and place in the freezer. After a couple hours, the berries should be frozen and you can move them into a plastic freezer bag. This ensures the berries freeze individually, rather than in one big hard clump. It makes it easier to pull out just what you need, instead of using an ice pick to separate the solid chunk of frozen berries.
I am hoping this winter to add a couple more of these gorgeous shrubs to garden. It’s challenging to find something edible that is also ornamental. Do you have any favorites in your garden that are as tasty as they are beautiful? I would love to hear about it!