Homemade Chokecherry Syrup
Retrieved from Get Up! And DIY (http://gdiy.com)
Introduction [ edit this section ]

Chokecherry syrup can add a delicious, intense flavor to your pancake breakfast or toast in the morning.  It isn't too hard to make as long as you have access to chokecherries. 

Chokecherries are too astringent (tart) to eat raw so the only ones that eat them are the birds.  However, once you cook them up into a jelly or syrup the strong flavor is perfect for all kinds of foods. 

Pick chokecherries
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Ripe berries on one of our trees.
Ripe berries on one of our trees.
Chokecherry is widespread and spans the breadth of Southern Canada to as far south as Texas.  Since chokecherry is widespread it thrives in a variety of climates. Local Western and Black chokecherry varieties may be found at low to middle elevations.[1]  The berries ripen from mid-summer to October, depending on location, from dark red to almost black.

About 1 gallon of berries will make about 8 cups of syrup.  The berries will be many shades of red to almost black. The darker ones have the best flavor so try to pick those if you can.

Clean the Berries
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Fresh picked berries have leaves and bits of twigs mixed in that need to get rinsed away.
Fresh picked berries have leaves and bits of twigs mixed in that need to get rinsed away.
Clean the berries by dumping small batches in a sink full of water. Remove leaves, sticks, dried up berries, etc.  Place small amount of cleaned berries in large kettle.  Crush with a potato masher after each addition.

Add water nearly to the top of berries. There isn’t a lot of juice in the berries so you need enough water to get something to make syrup with, but not so much that it’s watery. Bring the berries and water to a boil and simmer with the lid on for 20 minutes or until the berries are nicely cooked. (If at some point during the extraction process you think you didn’t cook enough, you dump the berries back in the kettle, add a little water, and cook some more.)

Drain the cooked mass through a larger-holed sieve and then transfer strained material to damp jelly bags and restrain. Resist the urge to press because most of the pressed product will be “thicker” than you’ll want to use in syrup. If you have time, allow collected juice to settle in a clear glass container overnight in the fridge. If in the morning you see sediment in the bottom you can strain again through yogurt strainers (or cheesecloth). Just dump out the sediment in the bottom.

Straining the berries.
Straining the berries.

Measure the final juice product. In a separate container, set aside 3/4 cup sugar for every cup of juice. Add 1 package of Sure-jell[2] to about 3-1/2 cups of juice and mix well to eliminate clumps or any settling on the bottom of the kettle.

Bring the sure-jell/juice mixture to a full rolling boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Quickly stir in sugar and return to a full boil. Boil exactly 1 minute, stirring constantly. Skim the foam off the top using a spoon.

Store in Jars
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Ladle into jars that have been boiled then cover with sterile lids.  3-1/2 cups juice + 2-3/4 cups sugar = about 5 cups syrup.


 

Footnotes and Citations
  1. ^Pojar, J. and MacKinnon, A. (2004), Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast, Lone Pine Publishing, Vancouver, B.C.. ISBN:1551055309
  2. ^Sure-gel is a commercial product. The actual compound you need is
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