My back yard is graced with several large Chokecherry trees. Every year since we have live here we have harvested the berries and tried different recipes. We have made syrup, jelly, candy, liqueur, cordial, and wine. This year I tried to make some sugar free jelly and cordial. I didn’t get as many berries this year as usual. Normally the birds start eating the berries and you know they are ready. So we head out with buckets and the whole family picks berries. This year, however, because of the lateness of the season and school already in session, it was just me who could harvest the berries. I am not as fast as an army of birds so I only managed to pick a couple of gallons of berries. While I was trying to pick the berries it was pouring rain and starting to snow so I really wasn’t motivated to stay out and keep harvesting. The birds cleaned out the rest of the crop. They don’t care about the rain.
I took a whole day to cook down 20 cups of berries. Ratio of 4 cups berries to 1 cup water simmered until the berries changed colors and the water became very dark purple. These were whole berries. Once I had cooked them down until they were soft. I threw them in the food processor and chopped them up. The pits contain cyanide toxins so DON’T EAT THE PITS! There are ways of processing the pits for consumption but I don’t feel comfortable doing that so I’m not even going to talk about it.
So this year I had this bright idea that after I had drained the juice off of the pureed berries I would separate out the pits and make fruit leather from the pulp. I spent about 2 hours sorting out pits. This is the result. The white bowl above is the drained puree. The small bowl is the amount of pits that I got out in that 2 hours and the large bowl is the total pulp that I got in 2 hours. Well….. I got bored and tired and realized that I was pretty fruitless…haha sorry about that pun. So I gave up.
So instead I started cooking up some sugar free jelly. In my defense I don’t do sugar free. It makes my throat itch, but my cousin asked if I would try making some for him. Well, why not? I followed all the instructions for the Sure Jell No Sugar Added jelly. I used Tuvia Baking Blend because it had half the sugar content that the Splenda Baking Blend had. Normally when I make jelly I get about 8 to 10 jars out of a batch of chokecherry juice. In this case I only got 5 and 1/2 jars.
The recipie I used was as follows.
3 1/2 cups of chokecherry juice
2 1/4 cups Truvia Baking Blend
1 pkg of Sure Jell No Sugar Added
Boil the juice add pectin stir in until dissolved. Bring to a Full Rolling Boil. Boil for 1 minute exactly (Time difference will affect the setting of the jelly) Removed from heat and stir in Truvia. Ladle into hot sterilized jars. Then Hot water bath process according to the chart for your altitude.
My daughter tried it for me and she said it was really good. A kind of bittersweet taste. Was a little disappointed that there were only 5 and half jars but volume wise it is to be expected since the sugar free version calls for half the amount of “sugar” which wouldn’t bulk up the end volume as much.
I also made some more Chokecherry Cordial. This is a concentrate of chokecherry juice that can be used as a drink. Cordial is awesome for kids and lasts for a long time.
I took fresh berries and pureed 5 cups in the food processor. Those were transferred to a large jar. Then I added 1 1/2 cups of vinegar and 1 1/2 cups of water. The vinegar/ water solution must cover the berries. Let it stand for 8 days. The solution will darken considerably. Then strain our the pulp and pits and keep the juice.
Boil the liquid with sugar. Ratio 1 cup juice to 1 cup sugar. Bring to full rolling boil. Boil for at least a minute then ladle into hot sterilized jars. I store mine in the fridge and just add a little to a glass and fill the rest with water to make a lovely juice.
I still want to try and use the pits for jewelry. I read that somewhere but I haven’t figured it out yet. I’ll write a blog about that when I do.