Aronais (aka aroniaberries, chokecherries), elderberries, and red and black currants are superstars in the world of berries, and are even better nutritionally than blueberries. Their ORAC scores are some of the highest known. We grow these three berries because of their ease of cultivation but especially for their health benefits.
Growing Aronias, Elderberries, and Currants
All three kinds of fruiting bushes thrive in most parts of the US.
Aroniaberry in blossom and in fruit:
Fox News Health tells us that, “Specific agents in aronias are anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-diabetic. They fight the formation of arterial plaque and lower serum cholesterol, and they protect the liver against a host of insults and toxins. In our ever-increasingly diabetic society, aronia’s compounds help to lower blood sugar and improve the body’s own natural production of insulin.”
The Aroniaberry contains a powerful natural blend of polyphenolic antioxidants. Antioxidants are important because they combat free radicals in our body that are created from daily living, stress, environmental pollution, medical x-rays and even exercise. Free radicals can damage cells which can lead to health problems. Consuming foods high in antioxidants like the Aroniaberry may help support the body’s defense against these radicals. Many studies show they are powerful in Alzheimer’s and other diseases.
Freezing and Baking
Aronias are very tart, and only my son, myself, and a few brave souls will eat them raw, BUT, they freeze well, are so dependable for a huge crop, and are delicious in quick-breads like this berry oat breakfast bread and smoothies (with bananas) as long as you add back enough honey or stevia. Smash a bit before baking with them.
I’m sure aronias dry (dehydrate) wonderfully although I haven’t done this yet. One bush is all that’s necessary as aronias are self-fertile, and growing them is so easy. They have no pest issues. Plant characteristics here. We planted ‘Viking’ (4-5′ tall). Purchase here.
See my post Aroniaberry Love & Six Recipes.
Elderberries are not self-fertile and need 2 different varieties to bear fruit. The can grow pretty large, so plant where they can spread out and fairly close together, maybe 18-20′ apart maximum. Plant characteristics here.
We planted Johns and York. Purchase plants here.
Elderberries in blossom and in fruit:
Elderberries are also better nutritionally than blueberries. Used for its antioxidant activity to lower cholesterol, improve vision, boost the immune system, improve heart health and for coughs, colds, flu, bacterial and viral infections and tonsillitis. Elderberry juice was used to treat a flu epidemic in Panama in 1995.
For Your Medicine Cabinet: Powerful Medicinal Properties for Flu and Cold
They are fabulous for pies, jams and jellies, wine-making, and my reason for growing them~ making elderberry tincture, a cold and flu remedy that works wonders. The flowers are delightful breaded and made into fritters. While some say eating them raw is not good, we have upon occasion eaten a small handful and lived to tell about it.
See many additional PubMed studies here in this post: No Flu Shots 4 Us: We Use Elderberry Syrup (99% effective for H5N1)
This post contains links to all of my favorite resources on Elderberries plus peer-reviewed PubMed studies that are changing the way we think about flu!
And lastly, Growing Red & Black Currants..
in bloom and in fruit:
Blackcurrants have significantly high amounts of phenolic flavonoid phytochemicals called anthocyanins. Scientific studies have shown that consumption of blackcurrants have health effects against cancer, aging, inflammation and neurological diseases. Red currants have slightly less of these properties.
Currants are self-fertile and can have some mildew problems, so look for resistant varieties. We planted varieties Consort Black and Cherry Red. Growing them is easy as they have no significant pests.
Freezing and Baking
They freeze and dry nicely, and we use them fresh to make wonderful muffins, breads, these scones below, and (if you develop an Old World mindset as to taste) are wonderful fresh!
See recipe here.
While all these berries are are well known in Europe, we Americans are mostly missing out on the benefits. Take my word on it, they are pretty easy to grow and do not need spraying. Aronias, elders, and currants will add wonderful, God-designed health properties to your family’s diet. If you are preparedness-minded as we are, these will really be a blessing to have already producing.
And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food.” ~ Genesis 1: 29
“Let your food be your medicine and your medicine be your food” ~Hippocrates