Chokecherry Jelly


Photo by Born 1945. Used under Creative Commons license.

Chokecherry Jelly is a low-sugar or low-honey cooked jelly made with Pomona’s Pectin. Pomona’s Pectin contains no sugar or preservatives and jells reliably with low amounts of any sweetener. See below for where to buy.

Yield: 4 to 5 cups

Before You Begin:
Prepare calcium water. To do this, combine ½ teaspoon calcium powder (in the small packet in your box of Pomona’s pectin) with ½ cup water in a small, clear jar with a lid. Shake well. Extra calcium water should be stored in the refrigerator for future use.

Chokecherry Jelly Ingredients

4 cups chokecherry juice
¼ cup lemon juice
4 teaspoons calcium water
½ cup up to 1 cup honey or ¾ cup up to 2 cups sugar
4 teaspoons Pomona’s Pectin powder

Chokecherry Jelly Directions

1. Wash jars, lids, and bands. Place jars in canner, fill canner 2/3 full with water, bring to a boil. Turn off heat, cover, and keep jars in hot canner water until ready to use. Place lids in water in a small saucepan; cover and heat to a low boil. Turn off heat and keep lids in hot water until ready to use.

2. Prepare chokecherry juice.

3. Measure juice into saucepan.

4. Add calcium water and lemon juice and mix well.

5. Measure sugar or room temperature honey into a bowl. Thoroughly mix pectin powder into sweetener. Set aside.

6. Bring fruit mixture to a full boil. Add pectin-sweetener mixture, stirring vigorously for 1 to 2 minutes to dissolve the pectin while the jam comes back up to a boil. Once the jam returns to a full boil, remove it from the heat.

7. Fill hot jars to ¼” of top. Wipe rims clean. Screw on 2-piece lids. Put filled jars in boiling water to cover. Boil 10 minutes (add 1 minute more for every 1,000 ft. above sea level). Remove from water. Let jars cool. Check seals; lids should be sucked down. Eat within 1 year. Lasts 3 weeks once opened.

Note: You can taste the jam after the pectin has dissolved and the fruit mixture has come back to a full boil. Once the pectin is dissolved, you are free to add extra sweetener above the range given in the recipe. Stir in the extra sweetener well and bring the mixture back to a good boil before turning off the heat and jarring.

Nanking cherries on bush

Nanking cherries — photo sent by JoAnn Ayotee. See her comment below.

Chokecherry photo by Born 1945. Used under Creative Commons license.

For more inspiring recipe ideas, see Preserving with Pomona’s Pectin: The Revolutionary Low-Sugar, High-Flavor Method for Crafting and Canning Jams, Jellies, Conserves, and More by Allison Carroll Duffy and the Pomona’s Partners, published by Fair Winds Press, June 2013, and available in paper or ebook everywhere books are sold.

Pomona’s Pectin is available at your local natural food store, food co-op, and many farm stands. Find it also at Sur La Table and a growing number of more conventional grocery stores with natural food sections (Wegmans, Hy-Vee, Rosauers, Nugget Markets, Coborns, Fairway, and others). If you can’t find a store near you on our store locator, you can order from our website or many other online sellers.

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17 thoughts on “Chokecherry Jelly

  1. I want to make a chokecherry jelly with a stevia / erythritol blend, how much should I use and do I add it with the pectin the same as the sugar?

  2. I don’t have chokecherries but I do have Nanking cherries. I noticed when I used this product last year, my jelly was very clouded rather than the clear version I am used to using regular pectin and tons of sugar. Did I do something wrong or are all jellies made with your product cloudy?

    • Dear JoAnn,
      If your jelly jelled and tastes good, it is unlikely that you did anything wrong. It is true that color can change and jelly can become more opaque when low-sugar jelly cools. The sparkly clear jelly look comes from high-sugar jelly being more sugar than fruit juice and it is the sugar that creates the look. In some cases, you can obtain clearer low-sugar jelly by straining the juice a number of times.

      I hope this answers your question. Thanks for using Pomona’s — and happy jamming!

      • Thank you for getting back to me so quickly! That’s what I figured, it was the sugar that created the syrup where the end result was this nice clear jelly. As long as I know I didn’t do anything wrong because as you say my jelly did jell and it did taste good! If you ever get the opportunity to try Nanking Cherry jelly I would highly recommend it. The bush is indigenous to southern Alberta, Canada, and grows like weeds. The berries are about the size of a red grape with a very large pit. I’ve attached a picture.

        Thanks again for such a quick response!

        All the best

  3. We are growing aronia berries, also known as chokeberries. Could I use aronia juice in place of chokecherry juice?
    PS the brix of these berries are between 15-18

    • Hello Nancy,
      You should be able to use the aronia berry/chokeberry juice in place of the chokecherry juice in this recipe.

      We haven’t worked with aronia berry juice ourselves but, from reading a little on the internet, it sounds like you will want to add the lemon juice for flavor even though the berries have a low pH.

      I hope this helps — would love to hear how your jelly turns out.

  4. What does the lemon juice do to help preserve the chokecherry jelly? What would happen if you did not use lemon juice?

    • Dear Deanna,
      The lemon juice in the chokecherry jelly recipe is to ensure that the jelly is acid enough for safe water bath canning. The pH of chokecherries is around 3.8 to 4.2. Safe water bath canning requires a pH of 4.6 or below. We like our recipes to be well below 4.6.

      If you don’t add any lemon juice, you may be okay, but we can’t guarantee that. You could possibly reduce the amount of lemon juice to 2 Tablespoons per 4 cups of juice and be okay.

      I hope this helps.

  5. I was just wondering if, after boiling the chokecherries, i know I have to strain them, but do I keep the water it boiled in, when straining and crushing, or do i discard the water before extracting the chokecherry juice?

    • Dear Marie,
      You want to just cover the chokecherries with water when you boil them. Mash the cherries and the liquid they cooked in together. Then strain. You do use the water you cooked them in, but you don’t want the juice to be too watery.

      I hope this helps.

  6. When I juiced the cherries, I didn’t put any water in with them, just boiled them down and used a masher to release most of the pulp (used a food mill for the jam, that was an experience! :), and strained the juice till it flowed freely through a jelly strainer. Although the juice still was somewhat astringent, it wasn’t as bad as the juice that had only been strained twice. As you say, it was very strong, so I cut it with water. I’m getting rave reviews with it, so I must have done something right 🙂

    I did use a strong honey, but I don’t feel like that was the problem, but I don’t have a lot of experience with it, so it could be. I didn’t feel the honey sweetened it enough to cover that bitter taste. I’ve got a lot more cherries, so I’ll experiment with other honeys.

    Thank you for the reply!

  7. I have harvested choke cherries and experimented with them, and found if I strain the juice multiple times, I get very tasty jelly with two cups cherry juice, two cups water (quart of fluid), 1/4 cup lemon juice, 2 cups organic sugar, 4 teaspoons Pomona’s, and 4 teaspoons calcium water. It sets up really well, although it’s a bit too sweet, so I’ll cut the sugar a bit next time. I also attempted to make a jam with honey. It jelled up fine, using the same measurements as above, but with a pulpy juice. However, the taste is very strong. I don’t think honey is a good mix with choke cherries. I thought I would share this info with you. I am really enjoying the success I’ve had with Pomona’s, thank you all for putting out a product for those of us that have an aversion to huge amounts of sugar, or to nasty chemicals… or both 🙂

    • Dear Becky,
      Glad to hear your chokecherry jelly jelled.

      The difference between our recipe and yours is ours uses 4 cups of juice. Maybe your juice is very strong and needs to be cut with water? Juice made at home can vary quite a bit in strength depending on the method used.

      It’s good you used 1/4 cup lemon juice as chokecherries do require the addition of lemon for safe canning.

      That’s interesting that you didn’t like the jelly with honey. Did your honey have a strong flavor also?

      Thanks for sharing your experience and happy jamming!

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