We grew up in the Midwest with relatives who loved to explore the many parks, country roads and outdoor spaces that are just minutes away. One of the earliest memories of outdoor adventures is of walking down a country road gathering wild fruit like wild plums, mulberries and choke cherries to be used in homemade jams and occasionally some homemade hootch! The jams made from our wild fruits were delicious and were what both of us grew up eating on our PB&J’s until we went to college. These jams were delicious, a wonderful combination of tart and sweet, and those flavors have stuck with us. This post contains sponsored content brought to you by Whole Foods Market. We received products to promote and develop recipes with but all opinions presented here are 100% our own. For further information please see our Disclaimer page.
One of those flavors was the aronia berry, a small dark purple berry that grows wild in the woods all through the Midwest and is sometimes called the chokeberry. Originally cultivated as an ornamental plant, its berry tart and so astringent it wasn’t something that was considered overly palatable. But when research found that the berries held more anti-oxidants than other superfoods, the aronia berry became the next big superfruit to hit the market.
We were approached by Whole Foods Market to come up with some recipes using local products for the upcoming summer months. One of the products they provided for us was aronia berries from Sawmill Hollow Farms, the first aronia berry farm in America, which just happened to be located just across the Missouri River from us. Located in the Loess Hills of Iowa, Sawmill Hollow Farms was founded by the Pittz family in 1997 as a way to return to their family roots. They started out farming the aronia berry as it was a crop that fit well with their hilly location and limited acreage. The Pittz family has been at the forefront of the movement to cultivate the aronia berry and make it accessible to small family farmers while making it a commercial success.
We wanted to try to recreate that nostalgic flavor of those wild fruit jams, but in an aronia berry syrup. We knew that the tart berries would need to be combined with sugar to balance the tart astringent nature of the berries. We used some of Sawmill Hollow Farm’s whole Aronia Berries combined with sugar to make a sweet syrup, but we still wanted the syrup to have just a hint of the “choke” so we used the Aronia Berry Juice Concentrate to bring a real depth of flavor to the syrup. This syrup has a rich complex sweetness that is almost like a rich red wine, with a hint of dryness while still having enough sweetness to balance the tart. The flavor has a real old fashioned flavor that is reminiscent of those old homemade jams and is perfect for using on dishes like pancakes, spread on toast or even better, on top of a rich vanilla ice cream! We hope you enjoy!
- Aronia Berry Syrup:
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 Tbsp Aronia Berry concentrate
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup Aronia Berries
- dash salt
- Heat all ingredients in a sauce pan until boiling.
- Lower heat to a simmer and reduce down until liquid has thickened and the Aronia berries have split.
- Strain through fine mesh sieve.
- Store in fridge for up to 2 weeks.
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