Choke Cherry Jelly

Making the Juice:

Take 5 pounds of choke cherries and place in a pan.  Cover with enough water to sink them all.  A good way to measure is to put your finger into the water and touch the choke cherries.  The water should be no higher than the first joint of your finger.

Bring water to a boil and then turn down the heat and simmer for an hour with the lid on.  About 30 minutes in, take a potato masher and mash the berries a bit.

When done, turn the contents into a large sieve and drain for an hour.

If you have less choke cherries, don’t worry.  Just add water in the same way.  The goal is to get at least 3 cups of juice.


Measure the following into a pot:

3 cups of strained juice

6 1/2 cups of sugar (yes, that’s right, 6 1/2 cups).  If you put less in, your jelly will not set.  Sugar binds to the water molecules and the pectin which gives you set and stops spoiling.

Bring to a hard boil and leave at that boil for 2 full minutes.

Empty 2 packages Certo liquid pectin into the pot and bring to another boil.  Take off the heat and let sit for 4-5 minutes.  This makes it easier to skim off the foam that invariably develops.  Pour into hot, sterilized jars and seal.

You can process in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes.  Do not do this for any longer or you will ruin your set (jelly is delicate)

Note:  Most recipes say to barely cover the berries in water and then cook only for 15 minutes.  This has given me not enough juice and also a burned taste.  Also, the pectin package and all online recipes I found said to boil the juice/sugar for 1 minute and add pectin.  I live in Calgary, altitude 3300 feet.  I think that makes a difference and the added minute of boiling removes just that much more water to enable you to get a set.


Good luck.

Two Cups of Rosemary, Rhubarb & Honey Jam

Two Cups of Rhubarb Jam with Honey and Rosemary

Who does not remember sitting on the porch on summer evenings, dipping a stalk of rhubarb into a bowl of sugar?  I suppose there are people who don’t like rhubarb, but I don’t know any.  The tart flavor seems universally loved.

This jam is one of my favourites.  There is something about the honey and rosemary that adds a huge depth of flavour to the jam.  I love it on bread but also stirred into plain yogurt.  You can also eat it as a condiment with chicken or pork.  And if you want to bake a matrimonial cake but aren’t nuts about dates, this makes a great filling.

1 pound  chopped rhubarb (1/2 kilo)

1 ½ cups sugar  (300 g)

3 ½ ounces honey (100 gm)

Juice 1 small lemon

5 sprigs rosemary

Cut rhubarb into small dice.  Macerate the rhubarb, the sugar and the juice of one lemon overnight.  The next day, sieve and pour juice into a sauce pan.  Add the rest of the lemon juice, the honey and the rosemary.  Cook to 214 degrees (at Calgary altitude) – reduced volume by about half if you don’t have a thermometer.  I take the rosemary out at this point because if it’s not really fresh, the spears will come off the stalk and you’ll spend a lot of time fishing them out of the jam.

Now, add the diced rhubarb and cook gently till set.  It will be quite thick with little liquid and bubble like molten lava.  Do not stop stirring – it burns easily.  Fish out the Rosemary before jarring.  Place in a jar that you have washed in hot, soapy water and put in the oven for 10 minutes at 250o F.  Let cool on the counter, then refrigerate.

Two Cups of Kiwi Jam

Two Cups of Kiwi Jam

Kiwifruit comes to us from China via New Zealand.  Originally known as Chinese gooseberry, it was first marketed under the invented name of Melonette because of strained relations between the US and China at the time.  An importer, Ziel & Company suggested that this name was unsuitable, and suggested the name Kiwi, New Zealand’s national symbol, because the bird and the fruit share a small, brown, furry appearance.  Inside though, Kiwis are a vibrant green colour with dramatic black seeds.  This results in a gorgeous jam that is not incidentally delicious.  It turns out that Kiwis are high in natural pectin, so no commercial pectin is needed.

You will need

2 lbs of Kiwi (1 kg)

3 cups sugar

2 tsp lemon juice


Scoop the Kiwi out of the shell.  Chop or mash the Kiwi, add lemon juice and cook until some of the juices release.  Add sugar and cook to 214o F (105oC).  If you don’t have a thermometer, don’t worry, you can see the jam thicken up.  You can do the frozen saucer test – take a saucer, place a small amount of hot jam on it, and put in the freezer for 3 minutes.  The jam should wrinkle up when pushed with your finger.


In the meantime, you have washed a big jar in hot, soapy water, and placed it in a 250o F oven for 10 minutes.  Take it out and fill with the hot jam.  Let cool on the counter and then refrigerate.