Goumi, Gogi, and Aronia

john_in_scMarch 22, 2013

Hey all,

I would like your opinions about Goumi, Gogi, and Aronia.

Want to try out some "Alternative" lesser fruits that require little care/no spray.... From my reading - these fit the bill... I already have several other "Lesser fruits" like Blueberry, fig, mulberry, grape, kiwi, etc... and I want to add some more variety.

Flavor - Are the worth it? Astringency? Do weird flavors/astringency age or cook out?
Culinary uses - what can you do with them? Cooking, drying, fresh, flavoring other stuff?

How do you think they would do with the HOT summers and humid weather of South Carolina?

Varieties you like?


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There is an aronia farm not far south of Madison, and I have had pound cake made with aronia, instead of blueberries. It was very good, but then you have to consider that there is considerable sugar in this recipe.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 9:30AM
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shazaam(NC 7B)

I'm relatively close to you (on the north side of Charlotte), and I added three goumis (Red Gem, Sweet Scarlet, and an unnamed seedling) plus a Viking aronia last year. All came from Burnt Ridge Nursery, and I was really impressed with their heatlh and size. All are in part sun, and I planted them in slightly raised mounds on top of heavy, compacted clay soil.

The goumis really impressed me with their vigor. As of right now, the two named varieties are between 3' and 4' tall (from 18" or so at planting) and are loaded with fruit buds that are just beginning to open some flowers. The seedling, while adding nearly as much size, has no fruit buds that I can see. That's not surprising, I suppose, since the named fruits are propagated from cuttings. I did get one fruit from the Sweet Scarlet last year, and I recall that it was quite good -- I'm sorry to say that I can't remember the flavor all that well at this point. It wasn't overly sweet, but I do recall that it had a very unique and interesting flavor. Overall, the bushes thrived through our hot and humid summer. They received some supplemental water, but I don't know that it was necessary. For the most part, the sprinkler was for other nearby plants, and the goumis never showed any signs of drought stress.

The Aronia wasn't nearly as vigorous as the goumis (they outgrew it 2 to 1), but it did well enough. To its credit, it managed quite well in spite of being in a tough location. It's still completely dormant at this point, but it looks good overall. I'm really not sure what to expect from the berries, but I do hope that I'll have a chance to try some before we sell our home late next year. Some say that they're too astringent to eat fresh, and others say that they're quite good. I like tart and astringent foods, so I'm optimistic that they'll be good eating out of hand.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 10:46AM
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skyjs(z8 OR, USA)

I like goumi. They have a chewable seed. Robins eat them. NO other problems.

Aronia does have an astringent taste. I mix them with orange juice. Very yummy that way . They are chock full of vit C and antioxidants. Their flavor adds a lot to the orange juice, but I don't really like them by themselves.

Gojis taste good but slugs keep killing mine.
John S

    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 2:34PM
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Goumi is an early ripener. Sweeter when left to darken with a slight shrivel. By then, the robin has eaten them all. Fairly large seed for a small berry.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 11:13PM
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yukkuri_kame(Sunset 19 / USDA 9)

I'm interested in the Goumi's more for health benefits (very few fruits with omega-3 oils) and also as a nitrogen fixer.

If anyone would be willing to offer seeds or cuttings, I would be elated.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2013 at 2:46AM
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Made a batch of Aronia-infused vodka last year - the berries can be 'extracted' multiple times - and made a tasty drink - the astringency was still there...but not offensive.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2013 at 12:26PM
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To Yukkuri,

You can actually get fertile seeds for Goumi and Gogi at Health food stores....

Buy a bag of goumi or gogi dried fruit... They contain the seeds... Many folks have reported that the seeds are viable... and have started plenty of plants from them.


    Bookmark   March 23, 2013 at 2:43PM
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South Carolina is too hot for aronia. This is a fruit developed in Russia from a Michigan native berry, and does well in the Baltic region and points East. Why not sea buckthorn? Of course you will suffer when you pick those berries, but two gallons of them, turned into jam, contain all the vit. C for your family for the winter, plus numerous carotenoids. Aronia is big in anthocyanines, and of course the fact that the russians developed it is proof of its nutritional value. But the russians developed sea buckthorn too.

You may consider hazelnuts. Tell your squirrels to thank me for this suggestion.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2013 at 3:55PM
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I'm in Raleigh NC and grow all three and have no problems with heat or humidity so far - and many of them are many years old. Goumis are the most reliable and easiest to grow. They do tend to get big, I think some of mine have branches that are close to 10 feet long. They tend to bend over at that length but they do get in the way. I used to say that Sweet Scarlet was not as tasty as Red Gem but was much more productive - now that they've all been in the same spot for a couple of years I cannot tell the difference between them. The berries are on the bush a long time, like month or more. During that time there is a period of about a week where they have the best flavor. They'll taste kinda like a cherry mixed with a cranberry with a hint of cherry tomato. None of them will survive the trip to the kitchen. Before that time they are a bit tart-er and not as intense of flavor - but still fun to eat. They make a fine jelly or syrup but the look is odd because they get milky when cooked with sugar so it looks like you've made jelly out of pepto bismal. A couple of bushes will eventually produce enough berries for a family of humans and a yard full of birds.

My aronias a just on their second year but should bloom this year. They are very strong growers for me. The raw berries I've tasted were too harsh and bitter. But cooked with sugar and lemon they have a wonderful tangy, super berry flavor. I'm growing them for juice which I plan on mixing with other fruits so it doesn't matter to me.

Goji took about a year to get settled in and are now growing so much that I have to prune them every other month year round. So far the berries taste like mild cherry tomatoes to me. Other people think they taste more fruity. Worth growing, but don't plant a lot of them. A couple of plants will give you all the fruit you need.

I've also got Sea Buckthorn (Seaberry) and Prinsepia which are not old enough to bloom but they've handled some hot summers and cold winters without any problems.

One plant that I cannot get enough of is wild Passionvine (Passiflora incarnata). A garden thug but not as bad as kudzu. If you let the fruits fall off the vine and then either blend the jelly like seed sacs from the inside with other fruits in a blender or just suck them out and lightly chew them up and swallow - they have an intense tropical flavor. The jelly like seeds inside do look like frog eggs so it can be hard to get other people to try them - but thats okay with me, I can eat them all by myself.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2013 at 4:02PM
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I've started goji from seed but the plants never did very well in my poor soil and neglect. I never got fruit even though the plants survived for 7 years or more.

I got interested back when the antioxidant craze seemed to be taking off. Since then I've moderated my excitement about antioxidants. So what if they have 50% more than the 6 other fruit they tested or whatever. They are little berries that nobody claims are delicious. Its easy to eat 3 times as much of a tastier fruit and end up ahead on the nutrients. Besides, apparently your body can only benefit from so much antioxidant at once.

If I had a dollar for every fruit that was claimed to be the most nutritious I could retire.

This thread has gotten me interested in taking another look at goumi.

edit: First time using the edit feature, nice. My reason for posting was to comment on aronia, but I forgot to.

I've found that aronia can vary hugely year to year with growing conditions, so don't decide you hate them from one sampling.

I've tried them from 4 or 5 different bushes. Mostly seedlings but also a named cultivar that I grew at home that described the fruit as bitter on the tag. In none of the cases did the fruit seem particularly bitter to me. Certainly nothing like cranberry or grapefruit in that dept. But they are very astringent until dead ripe.

They seem to be least astringent and sweetest in the same years when they are large, mild, sweeter and juicy. I'm thinking that the key to the better performance is plenty of water and sun and hanging on the bush until they are softer.

This post was edited by murky on Sun, Mar 24, 13 at 6:16

    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 6:11AM
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I've been growing goumi and aronia for about 10 years. My plant are seedlings from Burnt Ridge, from back before they offered cloned varieties.

The goumi makes a tree -- not the 4x6 shrub it is reported as. Mine was 25x20 when I started a multi-year pruning project to smallify it. I've now got it down to about 14x10.

My goumi makes thousands of flowers, but only about two fruits per year and I would not call them edible. Very astringent, with no sweetness or tastiness. The flowers smell like root beer, though, and the hummingbirds love them. And it's a pretty tree in summer, so I think I will keep it.

The aronia is also much bigger that claimed. It would be about 10x10 for me, in mostly-shade, but I prune it a lot. It makes fruit on second year wood, so be aware of that when pruning.

The aronia berries are too astringent for me, too, for fresh eating (but not mouth-puckering like the goumi). I use them in smoothies, or add them to blackberry or blueberry pies for added nutrition. One bush makes a ton of fruit. It's also the prettiest plant in my yard for fall color -- a lovely orange.

If I were stating a new garden, I would not include an aronia. It's just not that great and I'd put something else in the space. I'd recommend it more as an ornamental than a food plant.

I might plant a named variety of goumi if starting over -- but I'd probably grow it to fruiting size in a pot if I could, or a spot where I could remove it easily, rather than commit to it before I'd tasted it. Unless I was growing it just for its looks and fragrance. I would, i admit, miss it's scent in the spring if I didn't have it. Kind of like very garden needs a rose :).

    Bookmark   March 25, 2013 at 1:14AM
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alexander3_gw(6 Pennsylvania)

I grow Goumi and Aronia. Both are easy to grow. The Aronia has a bit of a problem with lace bugs. They are small sucking insects that poke tiny holes in the leaves to suck out liquid. It doesn't seem to slow the plant at all, but it does spoil the fall color, because the leaves a pretty ratty by then. If I hose them off in the summer, they don't seem to come back.

Goumi leaves look as good in the fall as they do in the spring. The problem with Goumi, as others have mentioned, is the Robins. They eat all the fruit as soon as it turns a bit red, which is quite a few days before it is ripe! I guess they don't mind the astringency. Ripe, the fruit is OK. I netted the bush a couple times, one year I made jelly. It was OK, but nondescript.

Aronia berries taste terrible on their own. Most years, the birds won't touch them, and I've tried leaving them on the bush, sampling them every week or so until they start to shrivel, so I'm sure it's not a ripening issue. I put them in smoothies, and the flavor is not an issue. I have made jelly and syrup with them, and both are really good. The jelly and syrup have a distinct, kind of wine like taste...I guess what wine drinkers call tannic.


    Bookmark   March 25, 2013 at 8:57PM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

I myself like tart fruit, but these sound like they are extreme. I may try them if I get bored, but have others I like and want to expand on. Such as currants and elderberries. Not good fresh, but terrific in jams, and smoothies, etc.
Balancing them, the flavor of red currants is really good. I actually like it better than raspberries or strawberries. But everybody is different. It kinda tastes somewhere between a cranberry and strawberry to me. I hope in the future to make raspberry-currant, and blueberry-currant jams. It gives a nice tang to these fruits.
Coconut and red currant smoothies, wow! Tartness is completely gone. My favorite way to consume them. I want to try soaking them in vodka, strictly as an experiment :). It will probably make an excellent vodka martini, drop a few raw berries in too. Much like a cranberry martini. You guys are in a little higher zones, they grow best in zone 5. They are fine here too in 6a. I want to start some elderberry bushes, but have not ordered any, busy with new fruit trees this year. I'm not sure where to put them either. I like the looks of Black Beauty and Back Lace ( both S. nigra). These are really nice looking plants! A couple different species of elderberry, needs a pollinator, have to make sure you get the right species. For berry production Adams and Nova sound good (Sambucus canadensis).

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 12:18AM
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