Every chokecherry recipe requires separating flesh from seeds, as outlined in steps 1-4 below.
1. Pick a mess of chokecherries. If you’re making multiple gathering trips, chokecherries can be stored in fridge or freezer until you’re ready to work with them.
2. Wash and remove big central stems and leaves.
3. In a large pot, add 4 parts chokecherries to 1 part water. Turn on heat and wait for any insects to float to top, remove. Simmer vigorously for 30-40 minutes with lid on, periodically crushing berries with a potato masher.
4. Let cool a few minutes. Strain juice by squeezing through cheesecloth, cotton shirt, jelly bag or strainer. Be aggressive, you want to get all the juice possible. Typically, one can extract 4 cups juice for every 10 cups berries.
Now you have your chokecherry juice. You are ready to start.
Mix juice with desired amount of sweetener, typically 1/3–1/2 cup sweetener to 1 cup chokecherry juice. Heat to a low simmer. Add the proper amount of pectin (follow directions on pectin box), bring to a hard boil for 2 minutes, stirring all the while. Remove from heat, ladle into jars. Can be safely water-bath canned.
You can test the “set” by putting a spoonful of the jelly in the fridge. When it cools it will represent the jelly’s final consistency.
Mix juice with desired amount of sweetener. (See previous chokecherry jelly recipe.) Pour into jars. Can be frozen or water-bath canned. May separate when cool, but perfectly good.
San Juan Bear Sauce, A.K.A. Apple-Chokecherry Sauce
Mix chokecherry juice with applesauce, about 1:1, or whatever is desired. You will need much less sweetener if any, depending on your palate.
Chokecherry-Apple Fruit Leather
Mix juice with well-blended applesauce, about 1:1. Spread about 1/8-inch thick on parchment paper on cookie trays and bring outside into the sun for two to four days. Leather should peel off easily.
Blend: 1 cup chokecherry juice, 3/4 cup honey or sugar, 1 carton cream cheese, 1/2 stick softened butter, salt to taste.