It is already a month ago that my wife and I were picking berries. The Mustaherukka, red currant and the gooseberries were happily thrown together into the mehumaja to make the juice that should help us through the winter. The vitamins our home made juices contain makes us survive many flue epidemics that other people fall prey too. The yield we get at the end of July from these berries is usually followed by one in the autumn. In autumn we pick Aronia berries.
Aronia berries are ripe late in the year. When they become good the weather is already spoiling, but not frosty. On a good day when the sun is shining it is worth to go out and pick them. Your bucket is easily filled because the berries are big and come in clusters. Each berry is a packet of flavonoids, vitamin C and vitamin K. The berries by themselves have dough like and sour taste, but they are good when mixed with other things like mustaherukka. It is for this reason that we always gather as much aronia as we can. It is healthy and it doubles the amount of juice we can consume during the year. A collegue of mine says he mixes it with pihlaja (80% Aronia, 20% Pihlaja). We have not tried this yet, but he says it's a nicely balanced mixture.
Aronia is a winter hardy plant. It can stand temperatures of -30c easily and is therefore often used in Finnish gardens. The bush is suitable as a fence, but can also grow to tree size. The branches are thin and can easily bend so that picking berries is not too much of a problem.
The berries can stand a certain amount of frost. It will not spoil an Aronia berry to be exposed to the cold. In fact the longer they ripen the sweeter they are. But one should take care not to wait too long before harvesting. The birds also like the berries. When they flock together on their way south they can pick clean an entire neighborhood. Such thing happened to us last year and it is the main reason that we ran out of stock for the first time ever. This year's Aronia yield seems to be more than abundant.
So this year we pick them a bit earlier. If you feel inclined to do the same I wish you happy squirreling.
Update 16.09.2014: We experimented a bit. Pihjala is very bitter. Some MTV3 expert gave advice to put it in the freezer or let frost come before harvesting to get rid of the bitter taste. The colleague in question adds apple juice and/or sugar.
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