Ingredient of the month: Aronia
What is it?
Also known as chokeberry, aronia is a deciduous shrub with dark-coloured berries.
Where does it come from?
Eastern Europe and North America
When was it discovered?
Aronia was well known to natives and early settlers, but has not been commercially cultivated in the United States since early in the 20th century. However, in recent years, it has become widely used in Denmark, Eastern Europe and Russia.
How is it beneficial?
The health benefits of aronia are based upon its high levels of anthocyanins and flavonoids — five times the amount found in cranberries. It contains high levels of antioxidants, polyphenols, minerals and vitamins, and has been attributed anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties. It is thought to promote good health by stimulating circulation, protecting the urinary tract and strengthening the heart.
What can be done with it?
Aronia?s main use is as a juice, either alone or blended with other fruits, such as grape or apple, and has been particularly popular in Poland. Other reported uses are for syrup, tea, soft spreads and food colouring, and in wine production.