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 into recipes that call for blueberries and are 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.
Aronia berries on their own are extremely tart and astringent and can leave a very dry feeling in your mouth, which may not always be appealing. However, they are the perfect complement to a sweetener and are often processed into jams, jellies, syrups, and sauces. Similar to how you would use blueberries, they are a great addition to baked goods like breads and muffins, as well as granola, oatmeal, and yogurt.
How To Cook With Aronia Berries
Because aronia berries are more tart than other similar berries, you may have to add more sugar to a recipe. To incorporate aronia berries into a smoothie, combine 1/2 cup of frozen or juiced aronia berries (or 1/4 cup dried aronia berries) with half a banana to balance out the tartness. You can also turn fresh or frozen aronia berries into a delicious jam. Boil equal parts berries and sugar, along with water, pectin, and a couple of 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 1/2 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 and strain. Use as a topping for ice cream or flavoring for vodka cocktails.
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 used in many recipes that call for blueberries or cranberries, such as smoothies, jams, and baked goods. Just be sure to taste for proper sweetness.
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 the berries in other forms, like frozen, dried, juice, powder, and even gummy supplements. And while you may find some aronia berry options at specialty health food stores, the best bet for finding aronia berries is to shop online.
If using fresh berries, wait to wash them until ready to eat. 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. For longer storage, place the berries in the freezer.
To freeze berries, wash and dry them. Then flash-freeze them by laying them in a flat, single layer, in a wax-paper or foil-lined 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-top 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.
Nutrition and Benefits
Aronia berries are high in vitamin C, vitamin K, fiber, iron, and manganese. 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.
Jurikova T, Mlcek J, Skrovankova S, et al. Fruits of black chokeberry aronia melanocarpa in the prevention of chronic diseases. Molecules. 2017;22(6).
Handeland M, Grude N, Torp T, Slimestad R. Black chokeberry juice (Aronia melanocarpa) reduces incidences of urinary tract infection among nursing home residents in the long term--a pilot study. Nutr Res. 2014;34(6):518-525.