About a month ago Brian's mom called and said there were some chokecherries where she takes her dog walking. I was ready to head out the door right then- but she said they weren't ready yet. So, since I didn't remember what chokecherries looked like, I asked her to call me when they were ready.
A couple weeks later she did. It happened to be a weekend we were going to be out of town, so I ran out and picked a big bowl full that Thursday when she called. They were in clusters, so pretty easy to pick.
This picture was taken about a week later, when I went back to get more- unfortunately, it was already passed the season and these are a bit wrinkled and dry. So I guess you really have to grab them when they are ready!
I brought them home, filled the bowl with water and let all the leaves, bugs, dried berries to float to the top so I could skim them off.
Then I put the rinsed berries into a large pot and filled it with water so it covered the berries. I brought it to a boil and let it simmer for about 30 minutes. I set another bowl in the sink with a strainer over the top and poured the berries into it so all the juice went into the bowl. I let it sit for a while, dripping and stirred the berries a couple times.
I probably could have boiled them a second time to get more juice (from what I've read online, that's what our grandmothers did) but didn't think of it.
I measured out the juice to see how many batches of jelly I could make.
The chokecherries apparently have plenty of natural pectin.
I found this Ball pectin at Walmart for $1 cheaper than the Sure-Jell and they each had a $.50 coupon inside- so the next one was only $1./box. It was in the canning section, rather than the baking section where the Sure-Jell is.
It's a basic pectin- 4 c. fruit or juice, pectin and then whatever amount of sugar you want, up to 3 cups.
I think I used 8 c. juice, 6 c. sugar and one box of pectin.
I've used it with other juice now and cut down the sugar more, but chokecherries are pretty tart, so I used the maximum amount with them.
Cost-wise, this was great:
Yields 8 jars @ $.25/per jar (pint jar)
I got 4 batches of jelly = 16 pints of jelly.
Do you make jam/jelly?