Tickled to find Tickleberries
Andrew Tickle has lived at Johnsons Farm in Kent for most of his life. I met him last week at the food matters live conference at London’s ExCel centre, where he was manning the Tickleberries exhibitor stand, marketing Aronia berries and their juice.
Not being aware of ‘Tickle’ or ‘Aronia’ berries, I was intrigued and so struck up a conversation. It turns out that as the UK’s first and sole grower of a berry no one in the country has heard of, when it came to marketing them he followed his niece’s suggestion to name them after himself. As he explained, “My niece thought of the brand name `TickleBerries`. She said, ‘Since no-one knows what they are, you can call them what you like!’”
Andrew describes Tickleberries as “Natures’s Gift to You” and after following up with some research of my own, I’m inclined to agree.
Why to be tickled by the health benefits this little berry
Tickled to find something new, I was also a bit disconcerted by the prospect of this little curiosity. Here was a berry apparently widespread in Central and Eastern Europe that I had not come across in seven years of research to create a database of close to two thousand real foods for the Just Routine App. I just had to get to the bottom of this. It turned out I had come across them, but under another name: Chokeberries.
A native plant of North America, there are at least two type of species cultivated, red and black. The black berries have a slightly sour taste and a great fibrous texture, just as I sampled on Andrew’s stall (and very much to my taste) while the red berries have a sweeter taste. However, both are a great source of anthocyanins, but naturally with the black berries containing a significantly higher amount. Plants produce anthocyanins as a protective mechanism against the environment, such as cold temperature, drought and ultraviolet sunlight. Black berries, blueberries and elderberries are other good examples.
What’s so important about anthocyanins?
In laboratory research, as well as in human and animal studies, anthocyanins have been shown to possess anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic properties, aid in the prevention of cardiovascular disease, obesity and diabetes, as well as boosting eye health and mental focus. Anthocyanins also interact with other phytonutrients, so their benefits extend even further when we consume a wide variety of fruit and vegetables.
Meanwhile studies have shown a routine nutrition high in berries can offer potential health benefits, such as reducing the risk of certain cancers, diabetes and neurological diseases. Choke/Tickle/Aronia berries are also a good source of flavonoid antioxidants, such as carotenes, lutein and zeaxanthin (great for eye health), while also containing vitamin A, C and E and the minerals potassium and manganese.
When buying ensure they are plump, fresh and shiny. They can be kept in the fridge for up to a week. They also freeze well and apparently become sweeter when frozen naturally. Add to muffins, pancakes, porridge, crumbles and pies. Meanwhile when dried they are a great snack or added to fruit salads or in cookies.
I’m delighted to have finally tasted these remarkable little berries and am tickled to have found a source in the UK. Choke/Aronia, for me, from here on, they will always be Tickleberries.
If you are interested in finding out more about them and Andrew, click on the “Find out more about Tickleberries”
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