[NAFEX] Juicing Aronia
don.yellman at webformation.com
Fri Sep 21 14:53:36 EDT 2007
1. I have 3 mature Aronia bushes here (Viking) that I have never bothered to pick, but this season, when they were particularly full of berries, I decided to pick and process them all. Two full 5-gallon buckets of clusters snipped off with a small scissors. I waited until they were fully mature and very dark purple, with none of the berries showing any red, and a few perhaps past their prime and beginning to dry up a bit. These berries hang on until the bitter end, and birds and animals never touch them. I removed each berry individually from its cluster, then rinsed them vigorously several times, ending up with close to 5 gallons net berries. As it turned out, that was plenty.
2. The only reason I can see to process these berries at all is for the purported health benefits of their anthocyanins, and their deep purple color which is capable of turning just about anything purple. I do not totally discount the health claims. I just don't know. But I certainly believe purple berries are a healthy food. There is no reason to process them for their flavor, since they have no fruit flavor that I can detect, although they are very highly astringent, which I take to mean acidic, and the ideal environment for the presence of anthocyanins. Aronia juice is almost always sold as a very minor (2% or less) component of a blend with other, sweeter juices that have some flavor. I think products like Trader Joe's Aronia blend contains about this amount of Aronia, in the form of "reconstituted" juice produce somewhere in central or eastern Europe. I make quite a bit of apple juice (cider) here, and had the vague idea of blending a little Aronia juice in each
gallon, where the astringency might be welcome with the sweet juice, and the Aronia would improve the nutrition of the cider and turn it a nice purple color.
3. Aronia is quite a dry berry, and I am afraid if you try to process these berries in your centrifugal juicer, you will end up with little to no juice. I first tried my steamer/juicer, but after nearly an hour of boiling found the berries still nearly intact, and began to mash them with a potato masher. That removed more of the juice, mixed with water from the steam, but not nearly all of it. I ended up finishing this batch with a small jelly cone, utilizing a wooden pestle, which removed all of the juice and left only seeds and dry skins behind. For the next two batches, I simply boiled hell of out of the berries for an hour, after adding a good amount of water, mashed them, and processed them all through the jelly cone. It was very tedious work, but I ended up with more than 3 full gallons of very dark Aronia juice, which currently resides in my freezer. I figure I have enough Aronia juice to blend with over 50 gallons of apple cider, should I choose to do so. It
is, of course, not pure juice, since I added water to boil the berries, and the steamer/juicer also adds water as it operates, but if you tasted this stuff I think you would agree it is as pure as you would want it.
4. The bottom line here is I don't think you will produce significant amounts of Aronia juice without boiling and softening the berries, then forcing them through a strainer like a jelly cone. If you have only a small amount of berries, you might be able to knock off this job in about 90 minutes, but I will have to think about it before I process any Aronia berries next season. If I end up not using the 3 gallons I already have I probably won't bother.
Don Yellman, Great Falls, VA
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