Just as the Saskatoon berries start to dry out, a new prairie berry emerges: Chokecherries! Chokecherries are very astringent, so they don’t taste good when you eat them straight off of the tree. However, when you extract the juice and copious amounts of sugar, they’re downright delicious.
There are plenty of chokecherries at my Mother-in-law’s acreage, and for once the birds didn’t beat me to them. I was also lucky enough to be at a campsite that was completely surrounded with chokecherry bushes–what luck!! (Please tell me I’m not the only person who likes to go berry picking on their lake vacation.)
So the Hermit and I picked around 25 cups of berries, juiced them up, and made them into this delicious chokecherry jelly.
I’ve included this video so you can see the process. If you’re brand new to canning, you might want to start with this post on canning basics, and this one with all the equipment you need for home canning.
Where do you find Chokecherries?
Both wild and commercially crown chokecherries are good for making jelly. Wild chokecherries grow in the same sorts of places that wild Saskatoon berries do, so if you come across a patch of Saskatoon berries, you might also find chokecherry bushes there a few weeks later.
If you’re purchasing chokecherries, you can get them from online stores that specialize in fruit trees, or from larger garden centres. If you want to order more trees and your garden centre currently does not carry them, you could always ask if they would be willing to put in a special order for you.
Are Schubert Chokecherries Safe to Eat?
Yes! You’ll often see Schubert chokecherry trees used in landscapes, and these chokecherries are perfectly edible too. I’ve made batches of chokecherry jelly with them, and they taste just as good as the wild ones and ones that aren’t used in landscaping.
Back to the Jelly–Will this one actually Set!?!?
I feel you, I’ve had many a batch of jelly end up being syrup. And while I love syrup, it’s really annoying when I intended to make jelly. Over the years I’ve tweaked my recipe so that I’m actually guaranteed success in getting my jelly to set up. It might not be the ratios you’re used to seeing, but it will set for you.
- 4 cups chokecherry juice
- 6 cups white sugar
- 2 packages of pectin (57 grams each)
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- Pick, clean, and wash a large amount of chokecherries to be steamed in your steamer juicer. 1 large ice cream pail should get you enough liquid, but I can't guarantee it or give you an exact amount because it will vary with how ripe your chokecherries are and what variety you picked. No need to remove the stems if you are steaming them.
- If using a steam juicer, steam the chokecherries for approimately 60 minutes and collect the juice.
- Sterilize 7 small (250 ml) jam jars.
- Combine all ingredients in a large pot. Boil for 5 minutes, stiring constantly.
- Turn off heat and remove as much foam as possible.
- Transfer liquid to jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Clean any spills and secure lids.
- Boil for 10 minutes (15 if you live in a higher altitude)
- Remove and let sit for 24 hours. Put any jars that don't seal into the fridge and use first.
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