The Aronia Berry
an exciting little berry in the health world at the moment.
Our trip to the Caldwell’s and Sawmill Hollow over the summer was a fulfilling one. Our first stop of the day was at Charlie and Jolene’s! They were a joy to visit with. Charlie openly shared his passion for the Aronia Berry and how he wants to see them growing in more and more people’s backyard gardens.
I was secretly wanting to run through Charlie’s grapevines and pick bucket after bucket of concord grapes too, while I was there….(they’re my favorite and I can’t seem to get them to grow very good in my garden…..got a few tips from Charlie, so hopefully next year is the year!)
Jolene invited us into her kitchen to share some of her at home uses for the aronia berries. It’s amazing how the berry by itself is ‘less than’ scrumptious, (doubt that there’s anyone out there that would just eat a bowlful of the raw berries by themselves) but when you combine it with other things, it’s DELICIOUS and when you combine THAT with the nutritional components…WOW.
Jolene gave us her secret sweetener alternative (1:1 ratio of organic raw sugar and dehydrated can sugar) She substitutes this blend in her baking recipes where it calls for refined sugar.
And Charlie is quite the winemaker…a delightful blend of his grapes and the aronia berries….they shared a taste of what is honestly some of the best red wine we’ve ever had, actually.
Dee’s friend Twyla is responsible for sending us in the Caldwell’s direction and I thank her for that. She too has started her own 2-acre crop of berries and now Dee can hardly wait to get her own little parcel of land growing with aronia….(and lavender)
We then carried on down the road to Sawmill Hollow Farm…Jon, Maddie and I had visited there over the summer and we were excited to share what the Pittz family (Vaughn, Cindy and Andrew) had grown over the years. Sawmill Hollow is currently the largest organic aronia berry farm in the country and their hard work is evident, as is their passion for making this a lucrative crop for other growers. They had prepared a variety of dishes using the products they’ve created and every one of us on the crew thought every one of the dishes and products were MAGNIFICENT. Look for them on the shelves at your local organic grocer..and taste for yourself.
Cindy’s favorite place is out in the field, amongst the bushes. She invites artisans to their farm every year for an incredible festival that I encourage all of you to check out if you’re ever in the Western Iowa area mid-September.
It was a hot, hot day and my ankles were so swollen…regretted wearing the cropped cargo pants…wasn’t my proudest fashion statement, but my wardrobe options were few at that stage of the pregnancy game! lol.
See the brown strip in the photo above….Charlie shared his organic weed killer with us that doesn’t harm the bushes…(Vinegar — the 100% concentration — the stuff we buy in the stores is typically 4-8%)
I have the 7 plants that Vaughn from Sawmill Hollow sent home with me growing in our yard at the moment (there was a bit of a battle between us and the raccoon on a couple of them, so hopefully they survive the multiple overnight ‘digups’…otherwise I may find only 5 perking up in the spring). Am excited at the idea of being able to go out my own backdoor and pick a basketful……in 2-3 years, of course!
A huge thank you to them all for sharing their love and knowledge of the aronia berry and all the delicious things they create with them. It was a memorable day!
Cheers to getting a bush or two growing in your backyard!