An Aronia(s) Assumption

We are trying something new this year, juicing and drying Aronia melanocarpa berries (black chokeberry).  Our bushes have a bumper crop and, while the chickens seem to love them, the flavor of freshly picked berries is, in our opinion, pretty awful.  You mostly notice the bitter taste of tannin. Thinking that they may improve with cooking, we put the harvest in the steam juicer.  The fruits are rather dry and we only ended up with 2.5 pints of juice.  The juice is better than the raw berries in terms of flavor, and hopefully still has enough of the antioxidants which this berry is so noted for.  Mixed with apple to sweeten and mellow out its rough edges, it was quite good in fact.  The pulp left after juicing retained its berry shape and is now in the dryer,  the first day on a cookie sheet then onto a screen to finish.   We thought if we didn’t like the taste they would still make a nice treat for the chickens this winter.  But after sampling the partially dry berries, they have been deemed too good to share more than a smidgeon with the hens.  Not as sweet as raisins, which they resemble at this stage, but good enough to make their way into some breads or pancakes when cold weather arrives.

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