aroniasIt 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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Ride-for-a-life-timeThe things you have to do for a good purpose these days. Two Dutch fathers started this summer a tour with a freight bicycle from Amsterdam to Helsinki in order to collect money for children with cancer. Having both lost a child to cancer it is understandable they wanted to do something. But why exactly that? They said it just popped up in their head. One had a freight bicycle that he wanted to bring to Finland. So why not? Indeed why not. When the news spread on facebook it was hard to resist sharing the news for such a good purpose. After all these things have a high emotional value so who can be against? Reason enough for many celebrities to put on their best face and throw support to the action. Another action going around at the moment is the ALS ice bucket challenge. Throw an ice bucket on your head, publish the movie on FB and/or donate money to your nearest ALS fund. It works because

  • it is crazy enough,
  • it is something anyone can do, and
  • you are a popular guy when you do it.

rock_on_the_head_challengeFollow these three criteria and your action will be successful. As for myself. I am never one to follow hypes. Yes, I will give money to a good purpose. Yes, cancer and ALS are terrible diseases. I don't need my awareness raised to see that. I just hope that the societies we live in are also taking their responsibility. Our researchers need money to combat cancer. Our hospitals need to be equipped to handle whatever terrible disease. Our doctors need to be qualified. We should not forget that one action does not make it good. So next time when you are asked to hit your spouse on the head for charity remember the heroes of medical science who in the front lines doing the real work. If you feel compelled to do a good deed, transfer money to Aamusaatio: FI05 1562 3000 1342 56, ride for a lifetime Lihastautiliitto: FI17 1590 3000 2011 50, viitenumero: 112448. Or simply support the red cross http://www.punainenristi.fi/ No need to brag about it.

 

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