Aronia berries are small, tart berries that have gained a following over the past few years for their purported health benefits. With high levels of cancer-fighting antioxidant properties, aronia berries are considered a “superfruit.” These berries can be found in a variety of forms, from fresh and frozen to dried, juiced and as supplements. They are easy to swap in to recipes that call for blueberries, and a great way to add a flavor variation to smoothies and sauces.
- Also known as: Chokeberries
- Origin: Northeast United States
- Benefits: Extremely high in antioxidants
- Substitute: Blueberries or cranberries
What Are Aronia Berries?
Aronia berries are dark purple, almost black berries that look similar to blueberries. Also known as “chokeberries” due to their puckeringly tart taste that dries out the mouth, they are part of the rosaceae family, which includes everything from apples and pears to blackberries and almonds. Aronia berries are native to North America, but are also grown in parts of Europe.
How To Cook With Aronia Berries
Aronia berries on their own are extremely tart and astringent, which may not always be appealing. However, they are the perfect complement to a sweet companion. Aronia berries are often processed into jams, jellies, syrups and sauces. They are also a great addition to baked goods like breads and muffins, similar to how you would use blueberries, as well as granola, oatmeal and yogurt.
Try adding 1/2 cup of frozen or juiced aronia berries (or 1/4 cup dried aronia berries) to your morning smoothie along with half a banana to balance out the tartness.
Turn fresh or frozen aronia berries into a delicious jam. Boil equal parts berries and sugar, along with water, pectin and a couple teaspoons of lemon juice. Jar the finished product and use it whenever you want a gourmet jam for your PB&J.
To make an aronia berry syrup, boil ½ cup aronia berries with 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup water. Turn down to a simmer until the mixture has thickened to a syrup consistency. Strain. Voila! You’ve got a terrific topping for ice cream or flavoring for vodka cocktails with antioxidants to boot.
What Do Aronia Berries Taste Like?
Fresh or frozen aronia berries are very tart and astringent, with a hint of sweetness that's brought out through cooking. Dried aronia berries express mild sweetness along with a tart with a tannic aftertaste. All of it will make your mouth pucker.
Aronia Berries vs. Blueberries
Visually, aronia berries look very similar to blueberries. While aronia berries can be swapped in for blueberries in recipes, keep in mind that they are much more astringent and tart, and typically much less sweet than blueberries. Therefore, you can't count on them to be the sole sweetener in the recipe. On the plus side, aronia berries are a bigger nutritional powerhouse than blueberries, providing higher levels of antioxidants.
Aronia Berry Recipes
Aronia berries can be added to smoothies, turned into jams and added to baked goods. They can be used in many recipes that call for blueberries or cranberries. Just taste to make sure that there is enough sugar, as aronia berries are more tart than their other berry brethren. Try these recipes and swap in aronia berries for the cranberries and blueberries.
Where to Buy Aronia Berries
Fresh aronia berries may be found in late summer in some farmers markets, but it’s much easier to find aronia berries in other forms. And while you may find some aronia berry options at specialty health food stores, your best bet for finding aronia berries is to shop online, where you’ll find them frozen, dried, in juice form, in powder form, and even as gummy supplements.
Nutrition and Benefits
Aronia berries are high in vitamin C, vitamin K, fiber, iron, and manganese. But they are considered a superfruit because of their high level of polyphenols and anthocyanins, which have antioxidant properties and give the berries their deep purplish hue. The anthocyanin levels in the berries are five times that of cranberries, and are additionally very beneficial for urinary tract health.
For fresh berries, wait to wash them until you are ready to eat them. Store them in a paper towel-lined plastic container with the lid slightly ajar and place on a refrigerator shelf (not in the crisper drawer) for a few days. If you won’t eat them within a few days, you’ll want to freeze them.
To freeze berries, wash and dry them. Next, flash-freeze them by laying them flat, single layer, in a wax-paper or foil-linked container or rimmed baking sheet and place in the freezer for 10 minutes. This will prevent the berries from clumping together later. Transfer the berries into a freezer-safe zip-close bag. Frozen berries will stay good for about one year.
Dried aronia berries should be stored in a sealed container in a cool pantry, away from light. Eat within three months.