Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Wild Choke Cherries

These are wild choke cherries, also called "pin cherries" by some. They are very bitter, but, as with most of the small wild fruits, such as crab apples, they have a lot more flavour than their domesticated cousins. The secret is to use just the clear juice alone and NONE of the pulp, and more sugar, of course.

The choke cherry tree is a nice addition to the flowergarden too, as long as you are going to pick the fruit when it is ripe. If you leave it to just fall to the ground, it will make a mess and reseed in the garden.

The tree is small, not getting above about 8'-10' tall and flowers in the spring. It is really a nice little flowering tree for landscaping with the added benefit of bearing fruit!

We have several of these small trees growing wild on the property. This fall, when they are dormant, I will move one to the new, expanded section of the ornamental garden where it can provide a little shade for a nearby bench.

I also plan to make jelly and possibly wine from the fruits. I make wine from everything! I am always looking for unique wine possibilities. (I started a one gallon batch of chocolate mint wine this morning!)

Below are some recipes I found for choke cherries. Avoid swallowing the pits.

Extracting the Chokecherry Juice

10 cups washed,with stems removed 2.5 L
5 cups water 1250 mL

Add 5 cups (1250 mL) water to 10 cups (2.5 L) berries and simmer 15 minutes. Crush fruit with potato masher as it softens. Drain through a moistened jelly bag. DO NOT SQUEEZE THE BAG!! The clear juice make excellent jelly. If you squeeze pulp into the mix, it will be bitter!(If the juice is to be used for jelly, choose berries that are under ripe as well as ripe, so the pectin content of the juice is higher).

Chokecherry Jelly

3 1/4 cups chokecherry juice 800 mL
4 1/2 cups sugar 1.25 mL
2 oz package powdered fruit pectin 57g

Combine chokecherry juice and pectin in a large saucepan. Bring to a full rolling boil. Add sugar. Boil hard one minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off foam. Pour into sterilized jars. Leave 1/2 inch (1 cm) headspace. Clean jar rim. Seal. Process 5 minutes in a boiling water bath.

Yield: 7 -1/2 pint jars (250 mL jars)

Crabapple and Chokecherry Jelly
4 cups chokecherry juice 1000 mL
4 cups crabapple juice 1 L
6 cups sugar 1.5 L

Prepare crabapple juice by selecting sound, slightly under ripe fruit. Wash thoroughly, cut off and discard any damaged spots. Remove the stem, but not the blossom end. Cut the crabapples in half, or if large, in quarters. Be sure to cut through the core so that the pectin around the core will be readily released. Add only enough water to the fruit so that it is just barely covered. Boil fruit and water in a covered kettle until fruit is soft and mushy; stir often to prevent burning. Crush fruit with a potato masher during the cooking process to reduce the boiling time. Pour hot cooked fruit into a moistened jelly bag. Hang over a bowl until dripping ceases (about 12 hours). DO NOT SQUEEZE THE BAG!! The clear juice make excellent jelly. If you squeeze pulp into the mix, it will be bitter!

Make chokecherry juice, 1/3 from red and 2/3 from fully ripe chokecherries. Wash, sort, and remove stems from chokecherries. Add enough water to cover (about 1 part water to 2 parts chokecherries), and boil until soft, about 30 minutes. Strain through a moistened jelly bag.

To make jelly: Measure juices into a broad, deep pot and boil uncovered for 3 minutes. Remove juice from heat and test for pectin. If pectin test is good, add sugar slowly to hot juice. Stir until all sugar is dissolved. Return to heat and boil briskly, uncovered. Remove scum as it forms. Test for doneness using the jelly test. Remove remainder of scum with a cold spoon. Pour carefully into hot, sterilized pint (500 mL) jars leaving at least 1/ 2 inch (1 cm) headspace. Process in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes. Begin processing time when water returns to a boil.

Yield: 4 pint (500 mL) jars.

Chokecherry Liqueur

2 cups well ripened chokecherries 500 mL
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar 375 mL
26 oz dry gin or vodka 750 mL

Thoroughly wash and rinse a large 40 oz. (1.25 L) glass container with a tight fitting lid. Wash and rinse berries. Add berries and sugar to container. Pour gin over mixture. Seal tightly. Let stand 30 days in a warm place, tipping the container daily until sugar dissolves. Let stand 20 more days. Strain several times. Rebottle and serve.

Chokecherry Wine

3 lbs chokecherries 1.5 kg
1 lb chopped raisins (optional)
3 lbs white granulated sugar 1.5 kg
1 gal. (160 oz.) water 1 gallon
1 tsp (level) yeast nutrient 5 mL
1/2 tsp pectic enzyme powder 2 mL
1 tsp (level) wine yeast 5 mL (Lalvin E-1118)

Use only sound ripe fruit and remove stems and leaves. Crush cherries, but do not break pits and put into straining bag. Put bag of crushed fruit into large pot and cover with 1 gallon of water. Bring to a boil, cover and remove from heat. Let sit, covered for 24-48 hours. Next day, lift straining bag and drain well. DO NOT SQEEZE BAG! Only the clear juice is to be used! Pour juice into primary fermentor and add all other ingredients. Stir well to dissolve sugar. Stir the must daily. Ferment for 5 - 6 days, or until specific gravity is 1.040. Siphon into a one gallon glass jug or carboy. Attach fermentation locks. Rack in 3 weeks and again in 3 months. When wine is clear and stable, bottle. Age 1 year.

***NOTE: As with everything else, I will probably have these seeds for sale in the seed store this fall.


The Japanese Redneck said...

They are pretty berries.

Neat that you have some on your place.

Clayton said...

In our neck of the woods "pin" cherries are a totally different plant Prunus pennsylvanica. This plant has very bright red berries and has a very different flavour. actually preferred in our house when we can beat the birds to the fruit.

Sheryl at Providence Acres Farm said...

Perhaps I have the name wrong and these are not pin cherries. I do know they are "choke cherries".

Clayton said...

I agree and good sized beside!