Old Fashioned Chokecherry Jelly Recipe

Make old-fashioned, homemade chokecherry jelly using our easy recipe. Jelly is a great use for this tart, native North American fruit.

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Old-fashioned, homemade chokecherry jelly.
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A few canning supplies are all you'll need for this recipe.
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Cook the chokecherries until they're bright red, then drain their juices.
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Add sugar to the juice and cook to make homemade jam.
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Leave 1 inch headspace in the canning jars.


  • 3-1/2 cups chokecherry juice
  • 1 package (1.75 ounces) powdered pectin
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice (optional)
  • 4-1/2 cups granulated sugar


  • To make homemade chokecherry jelly, begin by preparing the juice. First, wash the chokecherries carefully, making sure to remove stems and any leaves you accidentally picked.
  • Pour the fresh chokecherries into a large stockpot. Fill the pot with water to cover just the berries. Boil for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the chokecherries are soft. Chokecherries will turn bright-red when they’re cooked.
  • While the fruit boils, place a piece of cheesecloth over a large nonreactive bowl. When the berries are fully cooked, spoon them into the cheesecloth and allow their juice to collect in the bowl below. I like to press the berries inside the cheesecloth to get all of their juice. Prevent seeds and pulp from falling into the bowl. Discard seeds without crushing or breaking.
  • Now, you’re ready to make chokecherry jelly. I don’t recommend doubling or tripling the following recipe. This recipe will produce enough jelly to fill about four 8-ounce canning jars.
  • Prepare canning jars and lids by washing them in hot, soapy water. Set them aside but keep them warm and clean. You can place the jars on top of a towel folded inside a cooking pan and placed in an oven set on low.
  • In a large stainless-steel pot on your stovetop, add the chokecherry juice, pectin, butter, and optional lemon juice. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Then, stir in the sugar, and continue to stir constantly for at least 2 minutes. The juice will begin to thicken. Remove the pot from the heat.
  • While the jelly mixture is still hot, use a clean funnel and spoon it into the prepared canning jars, leaving 1 inch of headspace. Wipe the threaded tops of the jars carefully with a clean, dry cloth. Top the jars with canning lids and screw on the metal canning rings, tightening them lightly with your fingers.
  • Process the filled jars in a water-bath canner per the National Center for Home Food Preservation's recommendations (5 minutes for jelly if you live up to 1,000 feet, 10 minutes from 1,000 to 6,000 feet, and 15 minutes for over 6,000 feet above sea level). Carefully remove the jars from the canner and place them on a folded towel to cool. Check the seals after 24 hours. Refrigerate any unsealed jars immediately.

Learn how to juice chokecherries by following this old fashioned choke cherry jelly recipe using this tart, native North American fruit.

We’ve only been homesteading a few years, but one of the first skills we learned was how to preserve food. We’ve put up apple jelly, strawberry jelly, apple butter, and more.

Store-bought jelly can’t compare with the taste of homemade. After taste testing many types of homemade jelly, we have to say chokecherry is by far our favorite.

The chokecherry (Prunus virginiana) is a large shrub or small tree, usually found growing in small clusters. Fruiting bushes typically measure 1 to 3 inches in diameter and 8 to 15 feet tall. Exceptionally large specimens may reach 40 feet in height and a foot in diameter. Fruit is occasionally produced by plants that are only 3 feet tall. Chokecherries bloom in late spring, when the leaves are nearly fully grown. Raw fruit is extremely tart, so the kids won’t eat it all before some kitchen magic happens.

How to Juice Chokecherries

Besides the recipe and tutorial below, we also created a handy YouTube video showing the process of cooking up a batch of our old-fashioned chokecherry jelly:

Editor’s Note: Cherry and chokecherry seeds do contain amygdalin, which converts to cyanide within the body if the seeds are crushed or chewed before swallowing. Chokecherry seeds are very difficult to crush by hand, so pressing the cooked cherries within cheesecloth does not present a danger. Avoid processing chokecherries within machinery that breaks up the pits, such as blenders and food processors.