From a Great British Farmer - Andrew Tickle
The deep crunchy frost lacing the fields of Kent this week has made for one very happy farmer. The adventurous Andrew Tickle is the pioneer of the UK’s first Aronia plantation.
Although now safe from the cold snap, the clusters of deep violet-black berries were pulled from the bushes way back in September, this is a critical moment for next years crop.
Last year saw disaster when there was only one night of frost in the whole year and the bushes were back in bud by January. Aronia bushes are not only very hardy but need a long period of lying dormant to store up the nutrients in their roots to feed a healthy abundance of berries. If the cold weather continues there should be a fantastic display of blossom in the summer when the fragile pinky white blossoms are out.
Andrew is a small scale farmer who describes his farming as "regenerative". Unable to make the farm work by grazing alone and lumbered with a small flinty plot. Andrew was hoping to avoid the high-tech polytunnel route, he was driven to pioneer the UK’s first Aronia crop.
Working alone, Andrew freezes the berries, just a stones throw from where they are grown and then cold-presses them in small batches. We have been adding the juice from these super berries to our Nordic Water Kefir for some time but we are so in love with the health benefits of these little berries, that we will now also be selling this 100% cold pressed Aronia juice shots in 330ml glass bottles (more sustainable than the individual, smaller, plastic bottles that shots are more often sold in) . The first bottles of this fantastic juice have begun arriving at our farm in the Surrey Hills and we are so excited to be selling the only pure 100% English grown Aronia juice in the UK!
It is a little known fact that the European Food Safety Agency does not recognise the word "anti-oxidants". However one well understood botanical property of this plant, is it’s extremely high level of Anthacyanins which supply the incredibly deep purple colour. In fact, it has the highest level of any known berry. So it comes as no surprise that while we may want to avoid making claims around anti-oxidants as a general class, there is plenty of evidence around to show this fruit contains exceptionally high levels of the micronutrients that are found in other purple berries such as polyphenols and flavanoids.
With an acidity of PH 3.9, eaten off the bush, this is one of the sourest berries you will find. However, drinking it as a juice, it compares to red wine. Like wine you will get different notes of flavour all over the inside of your mouth.
I am one of a growing cohort opting to drink this as a daily shot for it’s health benefits. It’s also delicious in jams, teas and smoothies and ice-creams, however, as the cold weather is set to continue for some time , for now I will be continuing to have in my daily porridge!
Cheers and Good Health to you all!