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in praise of chokeberries
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cassy



Joined: 04 Feb 2008
Posts: 1047
Location: South West Scotland
PostPosted: Mon Aug 23, 10 2:29 pm    Post subject: in praise of chokeberries  Reply with quote    

I've just had our first harvest of chokeberries (Aronia spp.) and I'm very impressed with them. I have two bushes of Aronia x prunifolia 'Aron', one has been planted for two years and the second I only planted last winter. They are both about 1.5m tall.



They had lovely flowers in the spring, are nice healthy looking bushes with glossy green leaves and produced between them one and half pounds of fruit. I picked it a little under-ripe as the birds ate most of it last year and I wanted to beat them to it, but they were still edible raw; sort of like blackcurrants, a little tart, the sort of taste which would go well in a savoury salad rather than a fruit salad. The seeds were thin and easy to eat - much easier than a raspberry for example.




They were much easier to pick than blackcurrants as they were a larger fruit, came easily from the bush leaving the stalk behind and were firm, so could be dropped into the pail without squishing. As they are a taller bush, there was none of the stooping and crouching necessary for blackcurrant picking.



I made the whole lot into jam - it was very dark purple, almost black. I had to mash the fruit to get them to break up and they came apart like cherries - very dark skin and paler flesh. Although I left the seeds and skin in, there was nearly no scum to skim. It set very well and they could be useful to help set another fruit which contained less pectin The jam is very blackcurrant like. Next time I will try less sugar (I used blackcurrant proportions of sugar) to make a jelly to go with meat.

Although maybe not the tastiest fruit in the world, I'm impressed by how well they've done so far, how tough the plants are and how easy they were to pick and prepare and how easy they are to grow. I was going to say that they would not be your first choice if you are short of growing space, but they have do have spring interest, were covered in bees and seem to be tough as old boots, so maybe they deserve a place in more gardens after all.

More info -

PFAF - Aronia melanocarpa
PFAF - Aronia arbutifolia
PFAF - Aronia prunifolia

USA eXtension service

A.R.T. have a factsheet available.

lottie



Joined: 11 Aug 2005
Posts: 5059
Location: ceredigion
PostPosted: Mon Aug 23, 10 2:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Can you remember if the bees were bumble,honey or both?--I'm trying to vary plantings of stuff I can use and my bees like--I find some of the book and catalogue recommendations aren't as accurate as what I actually observe.

mihto



Joined: 03 Feb 2008
Posts: 3273
Location: West coast of Norway
PostPosted: Mon Aug 23, 10 2:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

I love them.

n my opinion they should be harvested somewhat late, even after the first frost. I intend to mix them with rowan berries and make a black, rather tart jelly. I also intend to freeze some blackcurrant leaves and put them with the Aronia berries when making cordial.

The Aronia berries are also lovely when dried and put into the muesli.

Glad to see that others use them as well!

Nick



Joined: 02 Nov 2004
Posts: 34274
Location: Hereford
PostPosted: Mon Aug 23, 10 2:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Does the first frost help with flavour, or is it just to help break them down? You could simply freeze overnight if its the latter.

cassy



Joined: 04 Feb 2008
Posts: 1047
Location: South West Scotland
PostPosted: Mon Aug 23, 10 2:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

lottie wrote:
Can you remember if the bees were bumble,honey or both?--I'm trying to vary plantings of stuff I can use and my bees like--I find some of the book and catalogue recommendations aren't as accurate as what I actually observe.


It was mostly bumblebees, didn't notice any of our bees on there unfortunately.

yummersetter



Joined: 26 Jan 2008
Posts: 3238
Location: Somerset
PostPosted: Mon Aug 23, 10 4:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

goody - I ordered some last week with fingers crossed that they'd be tasty Any other recommendations Cassy? I'm getting the third order together, the very very unusual fruit one.

cassy



Joined: 04 Feb 2008
Posts: 1047
Location: South West Scotland
PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 10 8:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

I've not had as large a crop from any of the other unusual fruits this year. I was hoping to get a decent amount of elaeagnus, edible honeysuckle and amelanchier fruit to do some experimenting with, but no luck.

What are you thinking of getting?

yummersetter



Joined: 26 Jan 2008
Posts: 3238
Location: Somerset
PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 10 9:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Can I get back to you on that I keep changing my mind.

One blue honeysuckle on order, more from seed I guess, Myrtus Ugni and a collapsing pawpaw planted a few months back. There are a lot of amancheliers already in the white garden, I think they get raided by the blackbirds as an energy boost on their way to the strawberries as I see them set fruit and then they're gone when I think to look again. I've ordered shallon, that tastes lovely, but the soil here may not be acid enough.

One rainy evening I'll sit down with the Chiltern seeds catalogue and see what's on offer there.

Eleagnus is a bit over-happy here - I planted an ebbingei a few years ago, for its perfume in October and we cut it down as it had got to 5 metres cubed and we couldn't get to the shed, In six years it never flowered or fruited and it was a huge mound of darkness. Goumi would be perfect but I'd need to source or future order from ART.

I was sent a species 'stocktake' list of plants growing in the Forest Garden at Dartington, (not the sales nursery) there are 242 eleagnus plants there That would smother our entire village, I reckon, if planted here. And 1030 duchesnea indica last year; that'll be 5,000 by now, I guess. I wonder who counts them?

cassy



Joined: 04 Feb 2008
Posts: 1047
Location: South West Scotland
PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 10 10:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

We're a world apart really . My aim is to source tough, hardy stock that will give a little fruit, but the same plants with you are taking over . Not as many as at Dartington, but I've got 33 elaeagnus at present!

I've decided not to plant shallon here as it is a Schedule 9 plant in Scotland. Interesting to hear it is tasty as well as a good bee plant; it might be something I reconsider in the future if I can make sure it is contained.

I'm trying some edible honeysuckle cuttings at the moment, to see if I can improve the pollination by planting more closely. They flower so early that the easier I can make it for the insects, the better.

And I have just found some bearberries at a local nursery and I'd been looking for some for a long time so I'm happy.

Blue Peter



Joined: 21 Mar 2005
Posts: 2400
Location: Milton Keynes
PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 10 10:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

cassy wrote:
I've decided not to plant shallon here as it is a Schedule 9 plant in Scotland.


What's a schedule 9 plant?


Peter.

cassy



Joined: 04 Feb 2008
Posts: 1047
Location: South West Scotland
PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 10 11:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Blue Peter wrote:
What's a schedule 9 plant?


The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 schedule of plants which you should not cause to grow in the wild. Variation to Schedule 9 (Scotland)here.

Truffle



Joined: 07 Feb 2006
Posts: 526

PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 10 12:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

cassy wrote:
We're a world apart really . My aim is to source tough, hardy stock that will give a little fruit, but the same plants with you are taking over . Not as many as at Dartington, but I've got 33 elaeagnus at present!

I've decided not to plant shallon here as it is a Schedule 9 plant in Scotland. Interesting to hear it is tasty as well as a good bee plant; it might be something I reconsider in the future if I can make sure it is contained.

I'm trying some edible honeysuckle cuttings at the moment, to see if I can improve the pollination by planting more closely. They flower so early that the easier I can make it for the insects, the better.

And I have just found some bearberries at a local nursery and I'd been looking for some for a long time so I'm happy.


So wheres the best/cheapest supplier of elaeagnus etc?
quite tempted now...

truffle

yummersetter



Joined: 26 Jan 2008
Posts: 3238
Location: Somerset
PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 10 12:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

According to my superficial reading, Duchesnea , which looks like a strawberry but is apparently flavourless, is groundcovering Texas in an unwelcome manner. I'll just wait for the Dartington ones to come to me, galloping east along the A30 with the rubus tricolour as the upper storey

cassy



Joined: 04 Feb 2008
Posts: 1047
Location: South West Scotland
PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 10 3:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Truffle wrote:
So wheres the best/cheapest supplier of elaeagnus etc?


Don't know if best or cheapest but I got mine from Cool Temperate and A.R.T..

cassy



Joined: 04 Feb 2008
Posts: 1047
Location: South West Scotland
PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 10 3:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

yummersetter wrote:
I'll just wait for the Dartington ones to come to me, galloping east along the A30 with the rubus tricolour as the upper storey


Oh, if only! Think of the money we'd all save.

Have you done the A.R.T. course yet yummersetter?

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