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.
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.