Gathering chokecherries is a great summertime activity for the whole family; in my youth we would spend our summers at our camp up north fishing and gathering wild foods from the forest. My cousins, brothers, sisters, and I, would gather berries and other fruits by the pail full. My mother and aunt would make jams while my father and my uncle made wine from the fruits we gathered. One fruit that grew wild in abundance around our camp was chokecherries.
Chokecherries have a number of common names like bitter berry or Virginia bird berry is a native wild fruit indigenous to North America. Chokecherry is a shrub or small tree growing to 4.9 m or 16 ft tall. The leaves are oval, 3.2 to 10.2 cm or 1.3 to 4.0 in long with coarse serrated edges. The flowers are produced in late spring well after leaf emergence. The fruits ripen in early August, are about 1 cm or 0.39 in in diameter, and range in color from bright red to black. The raw fruit has a very tart or bitter taste so unlike strawberries the kids won’t eat them all before you can get them home.
Since chokecherries are very tart and bitter most recipes contain lots of sugar, however my wife and oldest son are diabetic so I had to invent a sugar free recipe. Also I am using a cold bottling method in this Instructable.
Step 1: Ingredients
4 cups or about 1 liter Chokecherries juice and pulp
1 package no cook pectin
2 cups or ½ liter Splenda
You can substitute honey, maple syrup, or corn syrup for Splenda, just match the recipe cup for cup. If you want low sugar mix 1 cup sugar and 1 cup sweetener. If you do not worry about sugar intake just use 2 cups sugar.
Step 2: DIRECTIONS
Wash the chokecherries removing the stems and leaves.
Measure the chokecherries; it takes 8 cups of chokecherries to make 4 cups of juice and pulp.
Place in a 3 liter or 3 quart saucepan and cover with water and simmer 15 minutes.
Strain the juice and crush fruit in strainer.
Measure 4 cups of juice and fruit pulp saucepan and warm.
Stir in Splenda and let cool.
Step 3: Bottling
Unlike shelf preserves you do not need to sterilize the bottles, you just need to wash freezer safe containers or bottles and keep the Jam in the fridge or freezer until used. The jam keeps up to six months in the fridge and one year in the freezer.
Once the chokecherries are cold stir in the no cook pectin.
Skim off foam and pour into jars.
Wipe rims and adjust lids.
Store in freezer or refrigerator until used.