Pop quiz--- what's a beach bum's favorite fruit? Why, the beach plum of course! Daily double-- What's the berry with the highest antioxidants on the planet (yes, even higher than the elderberry and blueberry) Answer: The black aronia berry! (Aka the black chokeberry!) There's a good chance you never heard of either of those fruits until now.Well, I hadn't heard of them either, until a very spontaneous and very fun trip to Ocean City, NJ!
Originally the plan was to spend the day at Stone Harbor, but after a few hours on the beach there and remembering signs of Ocean City, we decided to do a "beach crawl" and drive over. (You gotta show those out-of-towners the ropes afterall!) After Jake and I walked on the boardwalk we came upon a flower show that was themed after great literary minds. There were flower displays of authors from Huckleberry Finn's Tom Sawyer to JK Rowling's Harry Potter, and the creations were quite fun.
As we exited the room and noticed a charming display about beach plums and black aronia berries.
It was there that we met Alma, the director of the operation, who allowed us to taste test multiple flavors of her raw, local honey and learn all about her life's work-- the harvest and cultivation of the beach plum and the aronia berry.
Alma co-owns Jalma farms of Cape May ( the "J" we learned comes from her husband John) where she grows and harvests the fruit with the help of her hardworking pollinators, her honeybees! Because her farm has so many hardworking pollinators, she also reaps the benefits of their honey, and makes delicious varieties and flavors. We tried two different kinds-- lemon, which she told us is simply a lemon slice inside honey-- the aromas and flavors combine over time-- and habanero. As I like heat, the habanero pepper honey was especially yummy to me, and gives me such inspiration for culinary creations I could make in the future. Of course, the sweetness and consistency of the honey quells the initial pain your tongue might endure, so fear not.
As we were very interested customers, Jalma told us the many benefits of honey and made sure we knew that store bought honey is absolutely not the real thing. I was beginning to like Jalma more and more with her philosophies on nature as nature intended. It is scientific fact that unpasteurized, raw honey, as opposed to store-bought pasteurized honey, is best for health because pasteurizing anything (a process that requires heat) removes a large amount of nutritional benefits from the product. Jalma gave us a brochure with all the fun facts:
Fun facts about honey (if RAW and LOCAL):
- Prevents cancer and heart disease (honey contains flavanoids, antioxidants which help reduce the risk of some cancers and heart disease.
- Reduces ulcers and other gastrointestinal disorders
- Anti-bacterial and anti-fungal "All honey is antibacterial because bees add an enzyme that makes hydrogen peroxide" says Peter Molan, director of the Honey Research Unit at the University of Waikato in New Zealand
- Increase athletic performance. Ancient Olympic athletes would eat honey and dried figs to enhance their performance. This has been verified with modern studies, showing that it is superior in maintaining glycogen levels and improving recovery time than other sweeteners
- Reduce cough and throat irritation
- Balances the five elements. Honey has been used in ayurvedic medicine in India for at least 4000 years and is considered to affect all three of the body's primitive material imbalances positively. It is also said to be useful in improving eyesight, weight loss, curing impotence and premature ejaculation, urinary tract disorders, bronchial asthma, diarrhea, and nausea.
- [Like honey in your tea? Added bonus!] When honey is used with other herbal preparations, it enhances the medicinal qualities of those preparations and also helps them reach the deeper tissues.
- Blood sugar regulation. Even though honey contains simple sugars, it is NOT the same as white sugar or artificial sweeteners.
- Heals wounds and burns. External application of honey has been shown to be as effective as conventional treatment with silver sulfadiazene. [Man I wish I had known that when I got my staph infection last summer-- I could've saved some bucks!]. It is speculated that the drying effect of the simple sugars and honey's antibacterial nature combine to create this effect.
- Probiotic: Some varieties of honey posses large amounts of friendly bacteria. This includes up to 6 species of lactobacilli and 4 species of bifidobacteria. This may explain many of the "mysterious therapeutic properties of honey".
- Beautiful skin: It's antibacterial qualities are particularly useful for the skin, and, when used with the other ingredients, can also be moisturizing and nourishing. (JalmaFarms)
According to my handy dandy brochure, Jalma farms is a 130 ace farm, where farming has been continued for 300 years.
By 2010 they had grown "2000 beach plums and 500 aronia berries planted orchard style"-- the largest cultivation of such fruit on the East Coast!
Fun Facts About Black Aronia Berries:
- Black aronia berries are naturally sweet, but low in sugar, and even assist in the treatment and management of diabetes.
- Improve blood circulation and strengthen the vessels
- Possess anti-bacterial properties which support a healthy urinary tract
- Their anti-inflammatory values help suppress viruses by boosting the immune system
- Are currently being researched for their cancer-fighting abilities. Ohio University study found aronia berries to provide a natural defense in fighting colon cancer! (Jalma farms)
After taste-testing multiple variations of honey and aronia berries, Jake and I decided they were worth purchasing. One hot pepper jam and one pure and natural honey later, we enjoyed the rest of the day at the beach. It was a great trip and after setting sail to originally spend the day at Stone Harbor, I never would've thought a spontaneous detour to Ocean City would give me such great fruity knowledge! : )
If you're here because of my post on Instagram, then now you know what the aronia berry is all about. If you're here because you follow the blog, then here's the pic I posted on Instagram..:
I had my udi's gluten free bagel with some sweet cream butter and hot pepper aronia berry jam for breakfast this morning, and it was yummmmy. The jam is reduced sugar so it is mainly berries, but is naturally so sweet. The added habanero pepper gives it a nice , but not overpowering bite of heat.
I hope you've enjoyed learning about these nutrishus® and delicious benefits. :)
Bon appetit et bonne sante,