How to Use Choke Cherries

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Have you ever wondered what you could do with chokecherries, those berries that grow in clumps and range in color from dark purple to almost black? Chokecherries were a main staple of the Native American diet, but people today find it hard to move past the fact that the berries make your mouth pucker; but once you do, you'll find the berries have a pleasant flavor. In fact, if you are partial to chokecherries, you can use them to make jellies, jams, wine and syrup.

Things You'll Need

  • Bowl Cooking pan Water Jelly bag or colander and cheesecloth Plastic bags
  • Locate a chokecherry tree. Chokecherries grow on large bushes or small trees that usually range from 8- to 15-feet-tall, and have trunks that are about 1 to 3 inches in diameter. Their bark is thin and dark gray or brown. The berries grow in clumps and have a dark purple to almost black coloring.

  • Pick the chokecherries. Make sure that the chokecherries are completely ripe. If there is any red showing, they are not ready to be picked. The chokecherries can be picked beginning in the middle of August and ending in early September.

  • Bring the berries home and wash them. Ensure they are free of dirt, bugs and other debris.

  • Decide what you want to make with your chokecherries. Most recipes are going to require that the chokecherries be drained of juice.

  • Place chokecherries into a large pan. Add water into the pan, but do not cover the berries. Let the berries simmer on low for a few hours so the juices within can be released.

  • Strain the chokecherries. You can use a jelly bag or a colander lined with a cheesecloth. The juice you get from the straining can be drank, frozen or used in jellies, jams and wine.

  • Freeze chokecherries for later use, if desired. Place them in a plastic bag that can be sealed fully to keep freezer burn from setting in.

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