West Chazy woman wins Best of Show with aronia syrup
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West Chazy woman wins Best of Show with aronia syrup

Jul 21, 2023

Staff Writer

West Chazy resident Brenda Miller is an aronia specialist as she made several concoctions for Culinary at the Clinton County Agricultural & Industrial Fair in Morrisonville. Her aronia syrup won Best of Show.

MORRISONVILLE — In Building 4, Brenda Miller was the superintendent of plants and flowers this year at the Clinton County Agricultural & Industrial Fair.

The West Chazy resident, 68, had many items on display such as knitted hats, photography, farm and garden products, plants and flowers and culinary goods.

“The culinary sections comprises not only just canned goods but also baked goods and they have a cake decorating contest,” she said.

“It is hard to get a lot of people in. I do canned goods. When I was younger, I canned and processed every garden item that we had. I kind of lost it over the years when I worked.”


Six years ago, Miller retired from the Advocacy and Resource Center in Plattsburgh.

“Now, I have time to do all of my plants, flowers and culinary,” she said.

“So no matter what I prepare and can, I make small batches of different kinds of jams, jellies, conserves, barbecue sauce, anything like that.”

Miller was in her section when the Culinary Department ladies came over and asked her if she’d ever heard of aronia berry.

“And I said, ‘Yes, I have heard of it,’” she said.

“It is a black chokeberry. Black chokeberry not chokecherry. Chokecherry is different. They wanted to know if it was a cultivated item. Yes, it is cultivated.”


Miller has a couple of locally sourced bushes that she planted in the back of her yard.

“And my son who lives around the corner from me has a couple of bushes in his yard,” she said.

“He probably ordered his online because that’s what he does. Whatever he has has to produce some food for him or he doesn’t want the plant.

“So these aronia berries are not a tasteful berry that you want to chew. They look like a teeny tiny grape, but they don’t taste like that and they do need some sugar in it and they don’t have a pit.

“They have little seeds. So you cook them up and you sieve the berry juice and stuff. It’s a healthy berry. It would taste like a sour, very seedy black raspberry.”

“Aronia berries (Aronia melanocarpa) are small, dark berries that have become popular among health-conscious consumers. They’re considered one of the richest sources of plant antioxidants, which are said to offer many health-promoting properties,” according to healthline.com.

For the fair, Miller made aronia berry juice, aronia berry jam, aronia berry jelly, and aronia berry syrup.

“The ladies that run the thing wanted to know about it,” she said.

“They were like ‘we’ve got some syrup that’s been made and we would love to have that for Best of Show but we didn’t know about the berry.’ I said, ‘That’s mine.’ So, I gave them all the information about the berry.”


Miller’s late mother-in-law, Yvonne Miller, taught her own to can foodstuffs.

“When we got married, we lived with her for two years, my husband and I, Henry,” she said.

“I learned so much from that woman. Here’s a funny story from that lady. I said I’ll help you weed your garden. I weeded alright. I took every plant out of that row. She said, ‘Oh, you pulled my plants.’ I was like ‘I didn’t know which was a weed.’

“That was her life: 100 jars of canned tomatoes and a 100 jars of corn and all these pickles. I learned by watching her.”


Now, Miller does her own creations such as corncob jelly.

“Corncob jelly is a very old recipe,” she said.

“When people didn’t have a lot, homesteaders didn’t have a lot of berries left, but they had corn. When they preserved their corn, which is often dried corn, but we use fresh. We cut the corn off the corn cob. Corn cobs don’t do anything, so you put them in water and you boil them.

“Then you strain the juice. Get all of those little pieces of corn out, just the juice. You measure it. I think it was four cups of the juice and two-and-a-half cups of sugar.

“Just boil it until it thickens, and that’s your jelly. You put in a jar, and put it in a water bath canning for 10 minutes and it seals. It tastes like honey.”

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Staff Writer

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