My Montana Adventures continue with this tasty Chokecherry Syrup. This versatile syrup can be served over pancakes, waffles, and vanilla ice cream.
I might or might not have been caught, red-handed, picking these tiny jewels on the side of the road last night at dusk, with my partners in crime Anita, and Lori.
A lot of laughs were had as we plucked the chokecherries from the loaded branches of the chokecherry trees that line Anita’s street.
This was a spur of the moment decision, so we did not have our guns and bear spray. Luckily, they were not needed and fun was had by all.
What Exactly Are Chokecherries?
Chokecherries look like mini cherries but grow in a clump, similar to grapes. According to Wikipedia, chokecherries are also known as Bitter-Berry, Virginia Bird Cherry, and Western Chokecherry.
They grow in most of the United States, Canada, and Northern Mexico. In Montana, chokecherries grow in abundance and are currently (September) ripe for the picking.
Can You Eat Chokecherries?
Well, of course, you can eat chokecherries. You’re reading a chokecherry recipe, aren’t you? Although you wouldn’t want to pick one off the tree and plop it in your mouth. Yes, I speak from experience.
Chokecherries have pits that look like regular cherry pits only proportionally smaller. However, that’s where the similarities end.
Chokecherries don’t share the same wonderful taste that regular cherries have. Instead, they have a bitter and astringent taste and will make you pucker or “choke” when you taste them.
As my friend, Julia recently joked, they’re perfect for tricking your grandkids with.
What Can You Make with Chokecherries?
Don’t let the unpleasant taste of chokecherries fool you. They taste great when used in various recipes.
My husband, Scott, loves Chokecherry Syrup. I decided to use the first batch of chokecherries (picked by my friends Dave and Lori) to make him some Chokecherry Syrup.
Luckily, after last night’s late-night picking adventure, I have plenty of chokecherries left to use in other recipes!
Making Chokecherry Syrup
Making a syrup of any kind is quite similar to making jam or jelly. However, more water is used so that the consistency is more syrup-like rather than jam.
Also, less pectin (or no pectin) is needed based on the fruit being used and its natural pectin level.
Chokecherry Syrup Directions
Thoroughly wash chokecherries before using them.
Measure the correct amount of chokecherries before adding to a saucepan.
Cover with the same amount of water, in this case, 4 cups each.
Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain juice through a strainer, then mash the chokecherries to extract as much juice as possible.
Dump the pits and pulp into a bowl and cover with more water. Use this liquid to extract more juice if needed so that you end up with a total of 4 cups of juice.
Pour the juice into a saucepan and add four cups of sugar.
Add either a combination of orange and lemon juice (or one or the other) to equal 3 tablespoons.
Stir occasionally, over medium heat, for approximately 30 minutes.
Take a small amount of the syrup and place it in the refrigerator until completely cool to see if the syrup has the desired consistency.
If you prefer a thicker syrup, sprinkle one to two tablespoons of pectin, as you stir the syrup, for a few minutes.
Pour into sterilized jars and process in hot water for 10 minutes.
Chokecherry Syrup Recipe Modifications
- Add 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract, which will enhance the cherry flavor.
- Instead of almond extract, add 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract.
- Mix in a small amount of the chokecherry pulp and skin for a chunkier texture.
- Leave out the pectin for a thinner syrup.
- Mix in 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon while cooking.
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- 4 cups chokecherries
- 4 cups water
- 4 cups sugar
- 1½ T. orange juice
- 1½ T. lemon juice
- 1 to 2 T. powdered pectin (if needed)
- Add 4 cups of chokecherries to a saucepan.
- Cover with 4 cups of water.
- Bring to a boil, then cover, and simmer for 30 minutes.
- Strain juice through strainer, then mash the chokecherries to extract as much juice as possible.
- Dump the pits and pulp into a bowl and cover with more water. Use this liquid to extract more juice if needed so that you end up with a total of 4 cups juice.
- Pour four cups of juice into saucepan and stir in four cups of sugar.
- Add either a combination of orange and lemon juice (or one or the other).
- Stir occasionally, over medium heat, for approximately 20 to 30 minutes.
- Take a ¼ cup of the syrup and place in the refrigerator until completely cool. If the syrup has the desired consistency, continue on to canning.
- If you prefer a thicker syrup, sprinkle one to two tablespoons of pectin, as you stir the syrup and boil for a few minutes.
- Pour into sterilized jars and process in hot water for 10 minutes.