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Chokecherries for Free

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I had my first chokecherry pie while visiting friends at their ranch in Swan Valley, Idaho several years ago.  I have to admit, I am not a big fan of cherry pie, so I was a bit skeptical.  But to my delight and surprise, it was an absolutely delicious pie… tart and flavorful.

The next morning our friends served us delicious stacks of Buttermilk Huckleberry Pancakes with homemade Chokecherry Syrup.  I was hooked.  I asked Marilyn (our hostess) where she got her fruit to preserve and she told me it grew wild all around their ranch.  Every year she goes out with her daughters to pick and then preserve the fruit.

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Just a few months ago, I discovered Chokecherries grow wild in Alpine too!  So last night our family went out in search of the ripe cherries.

Thanks to a tip from a friend, we found some close by on a small stretch of public land.  The crop wasn’t big… or someone else beat us there…  but we were able to pick about a gallon of Chokecherries.

This should be enough for a start.  Today I’ll use a Steam Juicer to extract the juice.  Then I can make either the syrup or jelly… or a little of both.  If I find a little more fruit I may try preserving some pie filling.

This weekend I am looking forward to making Buttermilk Pancakes to go with my Chokecherry syrup.

Picking Chokecherries is definitely “Make it Do.”  But is was also a lot of fun for our family.  It felt sort of like a treasure hunt.

Just be sure to remind your kids not to eat a berry until you’ve had a quick look and know it’s something safe… and to make sure I knew what I was looking for, I looked at pictures of Chokecherries online.  Then to be extra sure, I took a sample to my neighbor to verify I had the right plant before we took the kids out.  Sending the whole family to the emergency room from eating poisoned berry syrup over pancakes would not be making it do!

What grows wild in your neck of the world?   Don’t make me jealous and say Huckleberries or Blueberries.  I might just invite myself over… especially if you live in Australia.  I’ve always wanted to visit there.

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7 Responses to “Chokecherries for Free”

  • Tamikko Gordin:

    mmmm, chokecherries sound delicious. I’m afraid I’ve never heard of them :(
    I live in BC, Canada, 25 minutes from the Berry Country. There’s fields of blueberrries, cranberries (under water, of course) and raspberries. For a few weeks every summer you can take a walk down the rivers or sloughs and pick wild blackberries. Yum! They’re a bit tart sometimes but so much fun to find on a walk.
    (for 2 weeks of the summer you can buy blackberries from the Okanagan that are so huge, over an inch long and the burst in your mouth. They are mouth watering good)
    I love berries and only wish I ever bought enough every summer to last throughout the year so I don’t have to buy frozen come winter.
    I’m dying from Blueberry Coffee Cake now :)

  • Tamikko, I love to save my summer berries… and it is so easy to freeze them. I always lay them out on a single layer on a cookie sheet until they are frozen. Then I just throw them in a freezer Ziplock. I always make sure to label the bag.

    My husband and I spent a Summer traveling through BC and then up to Alaska… and we ate berries… and salmon all along the way. You live in the most beautiful place imaginable!

  • Barb in Edmonton:

    I grew up in Manitoba, Canada where chokecherries grew wild, so I know of what you speak. My favourite berries (aside from strawberries) are called Saskatoon berries. They grow here in the prairies and look a lot like blueberries, only somewhat smaller. Deeee-lish!

  • Choo Hoh:

    Where can I buy chokecherries bush

    • Calli:

      All the chokecherries I know grow wild, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a domestic shrub. I would check with your local nursery to see if they are available.

  • This is so fab! My boyfriend just called me up to inquire about the Chokecherries growing by our bedroom window. All I knew about them was Chokecherry wine, but upon further research I found out about jam and now PIE! Wild crabapples are also fab! Not the tiny black/red kind but the REAL kind that look like itty bitty apples. Made a pie out of those one year and was nearly like a cherry pie.

    Just food for thought ;)

    Thanks for the article!

  • Peggy:

    Please let me know in Alpine where these chokecherries are!

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