Thursday, August 06, 2009


This is the first year that my chokecherry bushes have produced fruit. I'm thrilled! When I was a young girl visiting my grandpa's horse farm, we used to pick chokecherries from the bushes and eat them right off the stem. If you've ever popped a chokecherry, you know the bitter-sweetness. Most grown-ups pass on eating chokecherries. I, on the other hand, must have a small handful or two when picking just so I can relive the taste of my childhood for a moment. Eating lots of chokecherries (minus the pits) can dry out your mouth and give you a belly ache, but made into syrups and jellies, they are a delicious treat.

Some of my chokecherries were more red than purple, and really, purple chokecherries are the ripest and best, but you have to beat the birds to them so one must watch carefully and diligently when the berries start turning from green to shades of red to purple. Today I picked a full gallon of these little chokecherries and still, there are many left on the bushes yet to ripen and pick.

Out of that gallon of cherries, I got about 3 quarts of juice. I cover the washed chokecherries completely with water and set them to boil for about 15-20 minutes. Once they soften up, I use my potato masher to gently squeeze the cherries for a little more juice. In the picture above, I'm straining the juice through an old, thin tea towel. (One of my kids embroidered the puppies on it)

Most recipes for chokecherry jellies and syrups call for commercial pectin and LOTS of sugar. I prefer to make syrups with as little sugar as possible and so I use *natural pectin* that comes from crabapple juice. You can also use a tart apple from your fruit drawer. If I don't have raw apple juice on hand, I will slice an apple or two and boil it along with the berries to add natural pectin to the juice. Using apple juice as a pectin allows you to use about half as much sugar in jellies, jams, and syrup recipes.

After straining the juice, I mixed half chokecherry juice and a little less than half crabapple juice (that I had canned last year) and brought it to a boil. I added sugar and boiled it for about 7-8 minutes and poured the chokecherry syrup into jars. Oh, I love this stuff drizzled over waffles and pancakes, pound cake and angel food. MMMmmm.

Chokecherry Syrup Recipe

5 c. chokecherry juice
4 c. crabapple juice
6 c. sugar

Blend the juices together in a large pot. Bring to a boil. Add the sugar and stir in. Bring it up to a boil again and boil on moderate heat for 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and pour into sterilized jars and seal. Allow to cool on the counter and listen for the *pop* that says the jars are sealed. This recipe made about 13 half-pints.

*If you boil the mixture a little longer, you can get it to set and turn into jelly, but I like pourable syrup best.

I found a wonderful website with lots of chokecherry recipes that you may like to try. I want to try the chokecherry liqueur. Doesn't that sound like a nice elixir for wintertime sniffles?


  1. They are such a great color! I don't know if I've ever tasted one...

  2. Now this is something we don't have here in Virginia, that I know about.
    If you mix crabapple juice with it ,I know its good .
    I have made crabapple jelly and we all love it.
    I am hoping to get a few more jars of pickles and another half bushel of string beans to can.may go to cannery and do some pinto beans too. Anything I can eat with cornbread will stick to your ribs,as the saying goes. LOL

  3. Thanks for showing a chokecherry Ms. Gumbo. I've read about them in literature before, but really had no idea what they look like!

  4. Ellen, these berries are really pretty, but quite bitter/dry tasting. If you ever get the chance to try some, do it....and think of me.

    Grandma Elsie,
    You might have a similar berry to the chokecherry called Canadian Red Cherry. They are very pretty trees that have reddish leaves all season and produce dark little purple fruits. I learned to use crab apple juice from my MIL. She was a savvy jelly maker and always used crab apple juice to make it.

    Chokecherries seem to be a very old fashioned type of fruit....probably written about in pioneer type literature. I think these wild fruits are making a comeback. Folks like the novelty of them, but they taste good too.


  5. This is my first chokecherry experience, too. One of those things you read about in books, but don't necessarily run across in real life (if you're me, anyway). Thanks for the tutorial!


  6. My first chokecherry experience was from you, dearie. And if I recall, the syrup was 'just right'!

    But dh has many fond memories of chokecherries--jam and syrup. It makes him smile just thinking about it.

  7. My mouth is puckering and watering as a read this post. Those chokecherries look like they should be sweet and delicious, but they steal your spit! There is nothing like chokecherry syrup on a fluffy pancake, though.

    Happy weekend,

  8. I too have not heard of chokecherry, it is beautiful color. Thank you for sharing with us. Clarice

  9. Love this post and piX. I make low sugar preserves, but didn't realize crabapple juice could be used in lieu of commercial pectin ~ good to know!

    Funny, I posted piX of jam jars on my blog today too, although a less eXotic variety (plain ol' strawberry and raspberry). Our wild blackberries are just about ripe, but the huckleberries won't be ready until early fall.

    I'll have to try your natural pectin tip on my neXt batch. ThanX!

  10. Oh this is sooooo good. It has been years since they have made out in these parts....I just love the color and you are right I bet the elixer would be wonderful...~wink~


  11. Red barn girl9/05/2013 8:50 PM

    Chokecherry jelly and syrup were a childhood fave of mine. Just got my hands on berries for the first time in my own canning life. The first recipe I found was 3 cups juice to 6 1/2 cups sugar. Waaaay too sweet, yuck! Thankfully I didn't use but a fraction of my juice. I prefer low and no sugar canning and this recipe sounds just right. Thank you and God bless all you cannners out there!


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