Chokecherry Jam Recipe

Chokecherry Jam was a breakfast tradition at our house. It defined Sunday mornings for as long as I could remember. After a few dozen phone calls, I managed to track down this most precious recipe from childhood.

Once I retrieved it, though, I felt kind of foolish. There's nothing to it. Have you ever gone back to a childhood haunt and noticed how everything is smaller than you remembered it? Well, I guess this recipe is kind of like that. Bigger than life for sentimental reasons and nothing more.

Chokecherries blossom in May and ripen throughout the summer. The time for picking chokecherries is... right.. about... NOW.

Picking your own? Look for big, plump berries, dark purple or black. Toss in some light red and green ones, too. They add extra flavor.

The Legendary O'Fahey Family

Remember to stir, stir, stir. Cherries and sugar can get pretty sticky and may burn to the sides of your pot.
  • Add 1 cup of water to every four cups of cherries.
  • Simmer over low heat until fruit is very tender.
  • Use a large spoon to press the chokecherry pulp through a sieve. (Three cups of pulp make about 3 half pints of jam.)
  • Add an equal amount of sugar to match the amount of chokecherry pulp.
  • Put sugar/chokecherry mixture back on the stove and cook over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved.
  • Cook to a temperature of 9 °F higher than the boiling point of water. *According to Aunt Lillian, this temperature check will deliver a rich flavor and thick consistency.
  • Pour into hot, sterile jam jars to approximately 3/4 full.
  • Seal and process in a boiling water bath for about 15 minutes.
  • Give the jam 24 hours to slowly cool.

* Are you a newbie at making jam? Click here. These guys can fill in the blanks.


Annette Vigil said...

Good morning. I have a question. Do I discard the water the chokecherries have been cooking in or do I save it and add back into the strained chokecherry juice/pulp?

Annette Vigil said...

Good morning. I have a question. Do I discard the water the cherries have been cooking in or do I add it to the chokecherry juice/pulp?

Kate/High Altitude Gardening said...

Hi, Annette;
Sorry for the delay in responding... Typically the chokecherries soak up the water, if you have some left over, set it aside. You may find when cooking the strained cherries and sugar for the second time that you need a little bit of that juice. Just enough to keep the mixture moist with a firm consistency. I hope that helps. :)

Anonymous said...

I decided to make a chokecherry jam and after spending several hours in the hot sun picking and squishing, read that the stems and leaves are toxic. Do you have to destem and deleaf them all? Because if that is the case, they will be tossed. :( My worry is that even though the juice would be strained through a jelly bag, the fact that the leaves and stems (mostly stems) would release their toxin into the juice.

I haven't been able to find any information about this. :(


Kate/High Altitude Gardening said...

Hi, Michelle;
Yes, I'm afraid that's the case. :(( You'll need to remove all leaves and stems before you try to make jam. Any picked fruit requires this same effort.

I suppose this is small consolation... but migrating birds would be highly appreciative of your efforts. Perhaps you could put the berries somewhere in the garden for our feather friends?

Key Fam said...

I have loved chokecherry jam since I VERY first tasted it when I was a young kid. I missed it forever and then found it again. My mom couldn't grow chokecherry trees at her house, so she got nanking cherries instead...the syrup tastes quite similar! It is amazing, and I hope she'll be able to salvage some of the berries before all the birds eat them this year...I need my supply of syrup! (And our young daughters love it too!)

Anonymous said...

Just came in from trimming the chokecherry trees, checking out the annual crop, about to make some English muffins since rain is coming and there will be a little humidity in the air.

I came the the blog to look at recommendations from fellow high altitude bakers and chefs. Thanks, all for your recommendations.

If you love chokecherry jam, try spreading it on a pork loin and using a smoker or slow grill.

And if anyone has experience getting English muffins to get nice and airy at high elevation, please share!

Anonymous said...

I am wondering if honey could be substituted for the sugar?

Kate/High Altitude Gardening said...

Yes you can sub honey for sugar but I can't give you specific measurements as I've never done that. Lots of people sub honey cup for cup with sugar. Some people prefer less honey. In either case, you might want to reduce the other liquids by about 1/4 cup when using honey. Hope that helps!

Anonymous said...

I have bought 2 bushes quite a few years apart. They both said they were serviceberry bushes.

My concern is one has small purple blackish berries. When breaking berry open theres a seed and inside is green color and bitter. Is this a sign they are not ripe yet?
The other bush has reddish colored berries. Is there that much difference in bushes?

Kate/High Altitude Gardening said...

Hi ~

DON'T use them. Service berries are an entirely different type of bush from a Chokecherry.

However! Service berries do make a pretty tasty homemade wine.

Thank you for visiting and commenting on my blog.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised there is no pectin in your recipe. Could the use of pectin reduce some of the sugar in he recipe? Your advice would be appreciated.

Kate/High Altitude Gardening said...

Hi; It's just a personal preference. Chokecherries are naturally high in pectin + most commercial pectins are GMO products and I'm very much an anti-GMO kind of gal. :)

Thanks for visiting and commenting on my blog!