How to Make and Preserve Choke Cherry Jelly


chockcherry jelly cans

We've only been homesteading a few years, but one of our the first skills we learned was how to can or preserve food. We've cooked and canned apple jelly, strawberry jelly, apple butter and many other types of jelly.  

Store bought jelly doesn't even come close to the taste of home-made jelly. After testing many various types of homemade jelly, we have to say that chokecherry jelly is by far our favorite taste.

The chokecherry is a large shrub or small tree, usually found growing in small clusters. Typical size for fruiting bushes is one to three inches in diameter and eight to fifteen feet tall. Fruit is occasionally produced on plants only three feet high, and exceptionally large specimens may reach forty feet in height and a foot in diameter. Chokecherries blooms in late spring when the leaves are just about fully grown. The raw fruit has a very tart/bitter taste so unlike regular cherries the kids won’t eat them all before you can get them home to make jelly of them.

Besides the recipe and tutorial below, we also created a handy YouTube video showing the process of making Choke Cherry Jelly:

Step 1: Ingredients

There are only a few ingredients needed to make this easy jelly:

3.5 cups chokecherry juice - I will tell you how in the following step
½ cup fresh lemon juice (optional)
1 tsp butter or margarine
1 pkg dry pectin (1.75 oz)
4½ cups of sugar

Step 2: Supplies Needed


You will only need a few items to make this. A bowl or two, big enough to hold your juice from your chokecherry's, cheese cloth, sterilized jars, bands and lids, canner with rack, jar lifter and jar funnel.

**To sterilize empty jars, put them right side up on the rack in a boiling-water canner. Fill the canner and jars with hot (not boiling) water to 1 inch above the tops of the jars. Boil 10 minutes at altitudes of less than 1,000 ft. At higher elevations, boil 1 additional minute for each additional 1,000 ft elevation. Remove and drain hot sterilized jars one at a time. Save the hot water for processing filled jars. 

Step 3: Directions


1. Wash the chokecherries, make sure to remove the stems and leaves.

2. Then put them into a large stock pot or the largest pot you have that will allow space for the water to boil.

3. Fill the pot with water until it reaches the top of the berries.

4. Next boil your chokecherries for about 15-20 min or until they are soft.

5. During this time you will want to prepare your next steps. You will want to get your cheese cloth and put over your bowl to catch the chokecherries. 

6. Once your berries are cooked, (they will turn bright red when cooked) you will want to spoon them into your cheesecloth and collect the juices. I crushed the berries while inside the cheesecloth to get the most juices out of them, but was sure not to get any seeds or pulp into the bowl.

Step 4: Make Your Jelly



3.5 cups chokecherry juice
1 pkg dry pectin (1.75 oz)
1 teaspoon butter or margarine
4½ cups of sugar

Once you have your juice from your chokecherries you will need to add the sugar and pectin. I do not recommend doubling your recipe, just make extra batches one at a time.

First measure your juice, add it to your pot, then stir in a box of pectin and the teaspoon of margarine or butter. While continuing to stir bring everything to a boil. Once at a boil stir in your sugar, making sure that you constantly stir for a full two minutes, your juice will start to thicken. After the full 2 min you can take your pot off the heat.

Step 5: Can Your Jelly

Can Jelly

After your jelly has thickened, you are ready to can it. Using your canning funnel, spoon your jelly into your sterilized jars, leaving 1 inch headroom on top, repeat this until all your jelly is gone. Before putting your lids on, be sure to clean the top and sides of the jars to get a proper seal. Tighten your lids lightly as they will need room to expand.

Then add the jars one at a time to your water bath and bring to a boil for a min of 15 min (please research how long you should boil for, as you have to take altitude into consideration). After boiling your jars be very careful and take them out and rest them on your counter and leave alone for at least 24 hours. This will help the jelly set correctly.

Kerry W. Mann, Jr. moved to a 20-acre homestead in 2015, where he and his family use modern technology, including YouTube and, to learn new skills and teach homestead projects. Connect with Kerry on his Homestead How YouTube pageInstructablesPinterest Facebookand at My Evergreen Homestead. Read all of Kerry’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

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