[NAFEX] Aronia Processing

Don Yellman don.yellman at webformation.com
Fri Sep 21 22:13:25 EDT 2007


We did have a dry summer here, but that did not prevent other berries, such as blackberries, from becoming juicy and sweet.  I might have been able to increase the size of the Aronia berries with regular watering, but I doubt it would have changed the flavor much.  I have eaten them from the bush for quite few years (though not many of them because of the unpleasant taste), and have failed to notice the sweet centers that your berries have.  However, I never tried to carefully separate the skins from the pulp, what little pulp there is.  I picked and processed the berries in late August, when they were all very dark in color and the more mature clusters were already beginning to dry up.  Any more mature than that, and they would have become Aronia raisins on the bushes, with even less juice in the centers.

Since one of the principal reasons for using berries that are difficult to process and distinctly marginal in flavor is to extract the concentrated anthocyanins that reside in the skin and just beneath it, it seems to me that if you were able to discard the skins you would also be discarding one of the best reasons for using them in the first place.  If I wanted to make a large volume of tasty, healthful dark juice, I would use a few gallons of fat blackberries in the steamer/juicer.  No skin problems there, and no astringency.

I can't think of a way, mechanical or using steam or cooking, to extract juice from Aronia berries without including the skins.  I don't think you would get much product by cold pressing these berries.  Because they are so hard, it would take a very powerful press to crush them, and I don't think much would come out.

I do appreciate the attractive appearance of the Aronia bushes, with their dark, shiny leaves, and multiple blossoms in spring.  They can also have a beautiful red color in fall.  But, compared with any of the other berries I grow, they lack the essential element of palatability.

Don Yellman, Great Falls, VA

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