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Black chokeberries are very small, about a half inch in diameter, and are glossy and purple-black when ripe. The dark skin is relatively thick and the flesh within is a bright reddish-purple. Black chokeberries are tart and sweet, but they can also be somewhat bitter. Each small berry may contain up to five tiny seeds.
Black chokeberries are available for a brief period in the late summer months.
Black chokeberries are known botanically as Aronia melanocarpa, whereas the red variety of chokeberry is Aronia arbutifolia. The small berries are members of the rose family and are also known as ‘Aronia berries’. There are several different Black chokeberry cultivars, such as ‘Autumn Magic’, ‘Nero’ and ‘Viking’, which are widely grown in Europe.
A half cup of fresh Black chokeberries is equal to roughly one third of the daily requirement for vitamin C. The dark pigment is the result of anthocyanins in the berries which are natural antioxidants. Black chokeberries have been found to have higher levels of antioxidants than any other berry to date.
Black chokeberries are most often used to make jams and jellies, juice or wine. Both fresh and dried berries can be used. Use Black chokeberries to make a compote for meat or poultry. The richly colored berries can be added to pickles or used as a natural food dye. Both dried and fresh Black chokeberries are available; the dried berries last up to a year in dry storage. Fresh chokeberries are highly perishable, like most berries.
The Potawatomi Native Americans the in Great Lakes area used Aronia or Black chokeberries for their plentiful nutrients to cure colds and as an anti-viral.
Native to the Great Lakes region in the mid-western United States, Black chokeberries were used by the Native Americans in the area for multiple purposes. The berries are also widely grown in Europe. The stay-fast color of the Black chokeberry is used as a natural food dye. It is said that chokeberries got their name because the birds are not too fond of the taste, hence they ‘choke’ on them.
Recipes that include Black Chokeberries. One is easiest, three is harder.