A few weeks ago, my Dad was reminiscing with me about family history and family members long dead and gone. I was lucky enough to meet some of these people when I was small. I have some hazy memories of certain encounters. I am constantly trying to strengthen these memories by pestering people who remember more than I do, or connecting by recipes, because taste and smell seem to bring memories galloping back.
My Dad was telling me about cutting firewood for his Aunties and doing various “chores” for them like picking fruit, killing wild game, etc. Dad mentioned he used to pick a lot of chokecherries and gooseberries for jelly making. Immediately I perked up and demanded to know more.
I had vague memories of riding my horse and picking something for jelly when I was very small. I was little, therefore, super short, and couldn’t reach the fruit. But, like any enterprising young ranch kid, you found ways around that. I can’t remember much about this memory, like what berry, how old I was, or who we were picking them for, but I do remember riding my horse Sequoia.
I spent so much time on our mountain ranch this summer I was unable to devote as much time to my passions of gardening and canning. However when Dad taught me what a chokecherry bush looked like, I knew I had the opportunity to make up for lost canning time! During the middle of the afternoon, when it was too hot to do much else, I picked chokecherries, lots and lots.
- 3 cups chokecherry juice
- 6 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 box (2 pouches) liquid pectin
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 teaspoon butter (to prevent foaming)
Pour juice, sugar and butter into large heavy saucepan and stir to mix. Place over high heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Stir in pectin. Bring to a full, rolling boil and boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir and skim off foam. Add almond extract. Pour into hot, sterilized jars and seal with two-piece canning lids. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
This jelly is delicious. The almond extract really adds a lovely layer of flavor. Since I picked so many chokecherries I am attempting to make wine. Stay tuned as I am just a few more weeks from trying it, and if it’s good, I’ll show you how I did it!