Skip links
Adeline Panamaroff joins the team as a weekly urban food columnist.  She has long had a passion for urban food foraging, food preservation and storage.

Chokecherry Jelly | By Adeline Panamaroff

Spread the love


Want a more exotic yet local jelly?

Climbing food prices forcing you to leave the grocery store without any sweet fruit spreads for your morning toast?

Look no further than your local urban green spaces to find the tart delights of chokecherry jelly.


Out behind the combine shed on my family’s farm was a wild chokecherry bush. Tall and breezy, these plants easily give up their fruit to the buckets that my sisters and I placed beneath them. They became jam once filtered through my Mom’s berry press and wine once passed through my Dad’s fruit bag.


Dark green or deep purple oval leaves, glossy bunches of fruit that can look like mini clusters of grapes, and chokecherries come into their full flavour in mid-August and can be harvested for several weeks afterward. Once they are soft to the touch and completely dark purple, these mouth-puckering treasures are good for plucking.


When you taste test this member of the Prunus family, remember that there will be a large, hard seed inside that you will not be able to bite through. You will have to skim the fruit flesh off with your teeth and spit out the pit. The tart flavour will remind you that you are alive as the tannins in the berry dry out your mouth.




  • collecting container

  • sieve

  • berry bag/cheesecloth

  • stock pot

  • potato masher

  • medium-sized bowl

  • measuring cup

  • 4-pint sealing jars/rings and new lids

  • stirring spoon

  • jar funnel

  • tongs

  • jar tongs

  • ladle

  • canning caldron




  • 7 cups chokecherries

  • 6 cups water

  • 4 cups sugar

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

  • 1 packet of pectin




  1. Harvest your chokecherries

  2. Clean and sort the fruit. These berries rarely have insect infestations so this step should be quick.

  3. Measure out the chokecherries and place in the stock pot with the water.

  4. While you wait, wash the pint jars, lids and rings in hot soapy water. Place the jars in a preheated oven set to 200 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 min to sanitize.

  5. Boil the lids in a small saucepan with enough water to cover them to soften and sanitize the rubber seal.

  6. Half fill your caning cauldron with water and set it to boil on the stove.

  7. Bring the pot with the chokecherries to a low simmer for 15-20 minutes. Once the fruit is soft, get in there with the potato masher to break up the skins and to  start separating the fruit from the pits.

  8. Transfer the mash to the berry bag, or a few layers of cheesecloth and squeeze as hard as you can to get out all the juice into the bowl. Discard the remaining pits and fruit flesh.

  9. Measure out four cups of juice.

  10. Place the juice into the stock pot with the sugar and lemon juice, and mix. Bring to a boil while string constantly to avoid scorching the bottom of the pot.

  11. Once the juice mixture is boiling, add the pectin, mix and let it come back to a boil again for 1 min.

  12. Transfer the jelly into the prepared pint jars with a ladle and jar funnel up to 1 inch from the jar rim.

  13. Wipe the rims of the jars clean with a damp paper towel, place on the boiled lids, and screw tight the rings.

  14. Once the canning caldron has come to a boil, reduce the heat to medium.

  15. Place the pint jars into the canning caldron with the jar tongs, making sure that the water level covers the jars by an inch, adding more water as needed, and wait for the water bath to come back to a boil. Let it boil for 10 min.

  16. Remove the jars from the water bath and let cool on the counter overnight.

  17. The next morning check to see if the lids have been sealed by unscrewing the rings and holding the lid by the rim. If the lid is both concave and it does not come off when held, it has sealed.

  18. Also, tip the jars to see if the contents have gelled. If it is still runny, don’t fret. You now have serviceable chokecherry syrup for pancakes or waffles.

  19. Label, date and store your jelly.


If you do not want the hassle or expense of the canning method, or if you are blessed with freezer space, you can freeze this jelly in small pint-sized containers for future use.

Chokecherry jelly was a staple in my Granny’s kitchen. Along with pin cherry jelly, it would appear on the breakfast table to spread over our toast when we came to visit. It can be a great filler for jelly rolls or thumbprint cookies.

It can also be mixed in with other fruits to make things like chokecherry/apple butter. (I made this a few years ago.)

This fruit tree is ubiquitous in the Edmonton area and under-utilized by the average forager, so it should be easy to acquire fruit for yourself. There is also a domesticated variety with dark purple leaves.

In my opinion, the fruit that these trees produce is superior to the fruit of the wild green-leafed bushes, but either will do in a pinch.

Enjoy the journey of foraging and producing your own jelly! It will add a new dimension to your early morning meal come mid-winter.

Stay a little longer with us; read more here:

Gooseberry Jam | Adeline Panamaroff

Don’t Miss Our News Updates!

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

This website uses cookies to improve your web experience.