Aronia: Native Fruit Crop for the United States

An old native fruit crop after being ignored for years is now being grown in the United States for its health giving qualities. It is also suitable for organic fruit production. The Black Aronia which it is often referred as chokeberry is a U.S. native plant that has become widely grown for fruit production in Eastern Europe. However it is now being recognized as an important health food in the United States. The aronia berry industry is a young developing market in the United States. The Aronia berry is about the size and color of a blueberry and comes in clusters of about 8 to 15. For this reason they are easy to pick. A mature Viking or Nero aronia plant (about 5 to 6 years) can yield over 20 lbs. They start fruiting (averaging 2 to 4 lbs of fruit per plant) within two growing seasons after planting.

A planting distance of 2.5 to 3 ft between aronia plants is suggested. This allows plants to sucker and fill in the space to form a hedgerow.. Thinning of the older canes is recommended after the plants are 3 to 5 years old. Cutting the plants down to about 3 foot height will invigorate the plant. If bushes are not thinned, they will grow too dense resulting in poor light exposure which leads to reduced productivity. Fruit is usually ripe in late August or mid September and ready to harvest. At harvest the fruit are usually at 19 to 21 Brix. Brix is the Percentage soluble solidsby weight. A high percent of soluble solids, high Brix value, is desirable. Bird damage is usually not a major problem in commercial plantings as the fruit is too bitter until they are ripe and even than they have an astringent taste. The plant is well adapted to its native home in zones 3 to 7 of North America and is suitable for growing commercially as an organically grown fruit crop. The commercial use of aronia is primarily to make juice. Either steam extraction or pressing the juice out with an apple cider press are effective methods. Freezing the berries first, before steam extraction or pressing them in an apple cider pres releases more juice. Aronia berries are very high in very important phenolic acids, procyanidins, and anthocyanins. When compared to other super healthy foods, aroniaberries stand out as the superior choice.
ORAC Values
Aronia fruits have high concentrations of flavonoids causing great interest in them because they are potent antioxidants. Aronia has a higher Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) than other domestic foods based on the reported results of foods for antioxidantactivity in 2010. The total ORAC score for raw Aronia fruit was over 16,000 µmol TE/100g. TE/100g is (micromoles Trolox Equivalents per 100 grams of fruit. These are the standard units for this ORAC test). Blueberries have ORAC score of a little over 4,600 µmol TE/100g. Raw Açai are reported to have a total ORAC value of only 5,500 µmol TE/100g which is far lower than the raw Aronia ORAC score. Acai a fruit imported from South America is a berry that has been in the headlines. Acai is one of thd leading marketed antioxident fruits but its ORAC is low compared to Aronia. Research shows Aronia has a higher ORAC than any other domestically grown and consumed berries in the USA.

Benefits of the Aronia Berry
  * It's antimicrobial properties promotes a healthy urinary tract
  * Has anti-inflammatory properties to help prevent and relieve arthritic symptoms
  * Fights bacteria and viruses, such as colds and the flu
  * Strengthens memory
  * Aids digestion
  * Helps the body produce good cholesterol and lower "bad" cholesterol
  * Provides the body with essential oils
  * Possible aid in the management of diabetes.
  * It has colon cancer-fighting properties
  * Aronia is high in fiber and contain pigments (anthocyanins) which can help prevent cancer.
  * Has the highest antioxidant capacity of any domestic food reported to date
  * Increases neurological, motor and cognitive functions.
  * May help to prevent neurological disorders such as dementia
  * Improve nighttime visual acuity and prevent and even reverse macular degeneration
  * Help fight against heart disease and other cardiovascular problems
  * Rich in vitamin B2, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, and Folic acid.
  * It may slow the effects of aging