There are tons of unlikely duos out there when it comes to food. Such as cheese & jelly, chocolate & salt, broccoli & Cheetos, Mango & chili, goat milk & caramel, sriracha & peanut butter. A personal favorite of mine is peanut butter and pickle sandwiches-it’s an acquired taste, I’ll admit, but so good! Well, I seem to have stumbled upon another unlikely duo; Nectarines and Aronia berries! They are delicious together.
Aronia berries are being harvested all over the united states right now. If your unfamiliar with this super fruit, it’s not surprising. While they are king of the super berries, they also pack quite a punch with an earthy, astringent flavor that typically drys out the mouth, think like a dry wine. They are also known as chokeberries, native to mid-west America, for years they have been seen as a weed, and removed from farm lands. However now, with the discovery of their nutritional value, farmers are planting them like crazy. If you live outside of the mid-west you might find them in your yard, because they have been commonly used in landscaping.
Some of the health benefits Aronia berries can offer are:
- Urinary Track Health
- Improve Blood Circulation & Strengthen Blood Vessels
- Balance of Blood Pressure Levels
- Prevention and help in treatment of diabetes
- Gastro Protective Effect
- Anti-Carcinogenic Effect
- Anti-Inflammatory Properties, Suppress Viruses
- Eyes Protection
- Weight Control
If you’re interested in learning more about the power of Aronia berries, I will link some resources at the end of this post.
Sunset Valley Organics is doing something unique with their plantings of aronia berries. They are applying what they call biological farming practices, which basically means they are putting minerals back into their soil, remineralizing it, which they have seen healthier plants, more nutritional fruit, the plants are able to defend themselves from insects and disease, and most recently they are finding their aronia berry plantings have less of that earthy, astringent flavor, even though the tannins in the skin that cause the astringent flavor are still there.
How can that be? Well it’s from the minerals doing their job, and interacting in such a way that the plant is producing fruit that has a higher sugar content, or Brix. (Brix is the standard unit of measure for sugar content.) That natural sugar is over riding the tannins and making them have a mild flavor. This year Sunset Valley Organics is seeing their aronia berries having an average of 26 brix, compared to last year they had 22, and the average, conventional aronia growers hit somewhere between 15-19.
The first time I ever tried an aronia berry I had to spit it out. It was so gross tasting to me, and it was around 19 Brix, the tannins were over powering, and it felt like I was eating litteral dirt. Not a good experience. But when I tried last years crop from Sunset Valley Organics, I could actually eat them. It was so surprising! I started using them in baking and smoothies. My favorite recipe I’ve found is Oatmeal Aronia berry cookies, so good, and can be a healthy snack!
So now with berries that are around 26 bix I’ve started incorporating them into other forms of baking, like today’s recipe! Because Aronia berries aren’t common at all, it’s important to experiment and play with them.
So let’s get to the good stuff, the recipe!
What You’ll Need:
- 5-6 medium sized nectarines, sliced
- Pie Crust- You can use store bought or my recipe (below) for a healthier version.
- 1 Cup fresh/frozen Sunset Valley Organic’s Aronia Berries
- 1/4 cup Thick apricot jam
- 3/4 cup water
Pie Crust Ingredients:
Coconut Pie Crust- Makes 1 full pie crust (top & bottom)
- 1 cups unbleached all purpose flour
- 1 cup coconut flour
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 2/3 cup (160 g) coconut oil, scoopable (not liquid)*
- 3-6 Tbsp (45-90 ml) ice cold water
What You’ll Do:
- Add flour and salt to a large mixing bowl and whisk to combine.
- Next add coconut oil in spoonfuls (see photo) and use a pastry cutter (or fork) to cut the two together, until it resembles wet sand – about 30-45 seconds.
- Add ice cold water 1 Tbsp at a time and use a wooden spoon to gently mix. Add only as much water as needed to help it come together and form a dough – about 3-4 Tbsp.
- Use your hands to gently knead/form the dough in the bowl and gather any loose scraps. Then transfer directly to a well-floured surface and form into a disc with your hands.
- Lightly flour the top of the dough, as well as a rolling pin, and gently roll into a circle the shape of your pie pan, about 1/8-inch thick. Add more flour as needed to prevent sticking. It’s fairly forgiving, so if it cracks, just patch it up with slightly wet fingers and reform.
- If using a standard 9-inch (or similar size) pie crust, simply use the rolling pin to roll up crust and drape it over the pan. Form the edges simply (avoiding too tall of edges or fancy designs as the coconut oil doesn’t hold it as well as butter) and add filling of choice. Roll out remaining crust, drape over the top of pie, and seal (optional).
Note: To save uncooked dough for future use, wrap in plastic wrap and set in the refrigerator for 2 days, or in the freezer for up to 2 weeks. Thaw before using.
- Pre heat oven to 375 F. Start with pie dough rolled out on to a baking sheet. We did a nine inch pie crust.
- Lay sliced nectarines one inch from the edge of the pie dough in a circular pattern, layering until all pie dough is covered.
- Fold 1 inch edge of dough on top nectarines, and pinch to stay in place.
- Evenly distribute the aronia berries on top of the nectarines.
- In a small pot bring apricot jam and water to a slow boil, until well combined and is a thin mixture.
- Brush evenly on top of nectarines and aronia berries.
- Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until golden brown appears on pie crust.
- Let cool 5 minutes, serve warm & enjoy!
Don’t take my word for it, educate yourself! Here are some links to more information about aronia berries (you can also google for even more!):
- Say Hello To the New Super Fruit
- Top 10 Health Benefits of Aronia Berries
- Health Benefits of Aronia Berries (Chokeberries)
- What Are the Health Benefits of Aronia (Chokeberries)