Saturday, August 1, 2015

purple clusters curving

purple clusters curving
branches to the ground -- bumper
crop of aronia

For a week I've been harvesting aronia berries. Nothing on the bushes last year, due to drought. But this year, with all the rain, we have a bumper crop. The 20 foot tall branches are bent to the ground with heavy clusters of purple-black berries. This makes collecting the plump berries easy. I can easily reach the low-hanging clusters and then I pull the pliable branches down to reach the ones further up. Still, it takes many of hours of patient branch wrangling and berry picking.

Now that the work of producing berries is finished, the leaves are already turning orange and falling off. After a rainstorm, the low-lying berries are covered in mud. Some of them fell off and are floating in puddles, so at least they aren't muddy!

I've counted as many as 32 berries in one cluster. I can usually pull a whole cluster off in one hand and drop them into a bucket, but sometimes my palm is not quite big enough.

The seedless berries are easy to process, just wash and pick off the stems. This year, because I have a bigger freezer, I froze 28 quart bags of berries. Aronia, commonly known as chokeberries, are quite tart when eaten out of hand. But when added to cereal or a smoothie with a little honey or maple syrup, they taste like blueberries. The dark purple, almost black color protects the berries from ultraviolet radiation, and the antioxidants, which are among the highest of any plant, are also good for us humans.

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