Chokeberry: The Next Superfood?

by Daisy on 06/05/2014

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With three times the antioxidants of that other superfood, the blueberry, Aronia melanocarpa, or chokeberry, may be poised to become one of the next superfood sweethearts of the nutrifood industry.

Why wait, though, when you can have a chokeberry in your own backyard? If you’ve never heard of chokeberry, you’re in the majority. Not to be confused with chokecherry, chokeberry has only recently come on to the nursery market. Chokeberry is a native shrub, 4-8 feet around and up. Not particular about soil, adaptable to either full sun or partial shade, and few pests and diseases, it’s an easy-care, high yield fruiting addition to the edible garden. It’s also ornamental with a growth habit similar to blueberry bushes, with pretty white blossoms in the spring and red fall color. The blooms attract beneficial pollinators.

What’s the catch? Well, besides having a PR-challenged moniker, chokeberry fruits aren’t for fresh eating. Very high in tannins, they have a pucker-factor that inspired its name. Reportedly, though, it is delicious in jam and as juice and pies.

I was impressed enough to buy one last year and plant it near my vegetable garden. It has bright green leaves, reddish stems, and one cluster of berries that will ripen in the fall.

IMG_2370It produces suckers and so I hope to be able to have some transplants to spread around other parts of the yard. One report said the berry production is only slightly reduced in part shade, so I’d like to put some along the fringes of the yard just outside the treeline and see if I can expand my fruit-producing area.



{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Angela June 5, 2014 at 10:53 am

This is so hilarious to me because I have this stuff growing in several areas of our back yard along the fences. I thought it was pretty cool looking when we first moved here so I let it go. My mom thought she remembered it from her childhood so she tasted a berry and proceeded to pucker up and spit all over my yard for the next 20 minutes. I wrote it off as a weed and have been chopping it down ever since. There is still some in a couple places so you just saved me some money. I have suoerfruit growing naturally. Be warned though, I’d consider it fairly invasive. Any berries that hit the ground will grow.

Daisy June 5, 2014 at 8:49 pm

Angela–Ha! Lucky! Have you ever made jam with it? If you do, let me know how it tastes!

Margaret June 6, 2014 at 9:29 pm

Is it deer resistant?

CarmenO June 7, 2014 at 5:00 am

I make the jam and it’s always my best seller in the farmer’s market because older people remember it from their childhood. Not many people grow it anymore because of the pucker effect. I have 6 bushes that I purchased online about 6 years ago (actually I had ordered Nanking cherries and was sent the wrong ones). They are not invasive. It tastes quite good after processing it. Right now the flowers are turning into berries here in Minnesota.

Daisy June 7, 2014 at 6:59 am

Margaret–Yes, it is listed as such in a couple of the lists I found, although I don’t have personal experience. Maybe someone with experience with that could report in.

Daisy June 7, 2014 at 7:01 am

CarmenO–What a way to get into growing chokeberries! I guess it was fate! I’m glad to hear from someone who grows and makes jam with them. Enough berries to sell at the farmer’s market from six bushes after six years sounds like a great harvest. Did you ever get the cherries, too?

Cinnamon Vogue June 7, 2014 at 5:14 pm

Very interesting. Googled it and discovered that Chokeberries have a ORAC value (anti-oxidant measurement) of 16,062 u/mol TE/100g compared to 4,669 u/mol. Of course as you say it does have a high pucker factor. Well guess we have to pucker up and eat it. 🙂

Daisy June 8, 2014 at 3:04 am

CV–It’s amazing. And yes, exactly!

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