Late summer is a time for everything sweet and delicious. Whether you’re after strawberries, blueberries or raspberries, there is an abundance ripe for the taking on this green planet. The last days of August into September for us, however, mean that the Aronia berry harvest is in full gear.
In the early years, we picked the Aronia berries by hand, grasping the cluster and dislodging the berries in one fell swoop. Some bushes can yield as much as several gallons of berries. Several gallons of fruit can usually be gathered in an hour.
The extensive health benefits of Aronia are perhaps only surpassed by their ability to stain everything! After a day of harvesting, our hands and clothes came away dyed a luxurious reddish purple. In fact, the color of Aronia juice is remarkably similar to the royal purple of antiquity or Tyrian Purple.
These days, however, there are harvesting machines that do the job better than any human could ever hope to. The berries are plucked from the bush and quickly transported to a harvest bin. The machine also separates out the leaves and stems. The berries are then loaded in a refrigerated trailer to be cleaned, sanitized, and quickly frozen to lock in the nutrition.
Although colloquially known as chokeberries for their tart, astringent taste, I promise that if you ever have the chance to eat fresh-picked Aronia in the field, you will be pleasantly surprised.