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chokecherries thread

 
Brenda Groth
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Location: North Central Michigan
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http://www.wildfoods.info/wildfoods/chokecherry.html

been seeing a lot of these while I'm walking the last week, and they are hanging heavy in clumps and turning black..(the black bears here love them, find bear scat full of them in August here).

well, if they were a main food of the native americans I think it is about time I gave it a try, so the plan is next week to start picking some of them (says to leave on the bush 1 week after turning black) and the plan is to try some in fruit leather and some in jelly if I can get enough before the bears and wildlife strip them all off the bushes..also plan to save some seeds and plant a grove of them near our woods/field area if we like them..for people food as well as our lovely wildlife..

anyone have any experience with these?
 
Barb Holtey
Posts: 3
Location: zone 6b southwestern ontario essex county
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Are you talking about chokecherries or chokeberries?  Cokecherries abound on my little piece of heaven but I can't gather anything before the birds do.  Feathered friends strip every little tree or bush bare before the fruits are ripe.  I am talking Chokecherries - first they are green, then red, finally black.  What are you planning to do with them?  I have read that they make a good jam.
 
Brenda Groth
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Location: North Central Michigan
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yes the chokecherries. Hubby did make a big sacrifice helping me pick them today, he lost his glasses and  3 hours later we were not able to find them..oh oh

well, we got enough chokecherries to make a batch of jam, about 6 cups. I put a little water on them and cooked them down for about 15 to 20 min and then strained off the juice and put the pulp through a food mill to get as much juice out as I could. Recipe said to add some apple juice which I didn't have handy, all I had was cranberry so I added that..

Made the jam with the usual pectin, sugar, juice mixture following pectin directions for sour cherries.

the batch made 8 1/2pint jars plus a 1/2 of one nearly full that I scraped out of the pan..and it was totally amazing.

I think I might like it even better with the apple juice, will make a note on my calendar for August 2012 to have apple juice on hand to make the jelly with.

I sorted out some mummies and damaged berries and plan to put the seeds around my black walnut tree in hopes of getting some berries in a few years on my own property, these were about a mile walk away in the woods.

and the link above will give more info, esp about their toxicity to animals, for those with livestock, all I have area wild animals here except my cats so no worries planting them here..

they are a very small tree, more of a bush, and the cherries hang in long clumps easy to harvest and must be black for at least a week before you harvest them...mine were nearly sweet enough to eat out of hand, but not quite.
 
Barb Holtey
Posts: 3
Location: zone 6b southwestern ontario essex county
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Brenda:  That link has a wonderful amount of information as does your own story.  Now I am inspired to try next year to net a few of the trees so I can harvest chokecherries too.  As it says in the link, anything I've read before dismisses the berries as not being wothwhile.  I live in extreme southern ontario and there are hundreds of these little trees on my property.  I've even planted quite a few around the house as landscape plants mostly for the entertainment of watching the birds harvest the berries - and it is truly entertaining because the whole tree quivers and shakes as though it is experiencing it's own private little tornado.  The chokecherries attract all sorts of species of birds and now I realize - they can't all be wrong.  What's more, they are seeding the entire 14 acres with more and more of these worthy plants.  Thanks for letting me in on this information.
 
Brenda Groth
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Location: North Central Michigan
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it would be easy to mistake chokecherries for wild cherries..the chokecherries are a very very small tree ..also called bird cherries..with long hanging pendants of flowers in the spring that tend to smell a bit like cat pee if you bring them in the house (not a good vase flower)...but beautiful outside..

It isn't the tall tree, those are wild cherries..and grow well over 100 feet tall when mature..but the chokecherries grow about 6' tall or so..and are more of a bush.

in Ontario they should just be now turning black so you have time to harvest them yet.
 
Barb Holtey
Posts: 3
Location: zone 6b southwestern ontario essex county
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Oh no, Brenda, the berries are already GONE.  The birds don't wait til they are black.  I understand which small tree or bush you mean.  They make the forest beautiful in the spring with thier bottlebrush creamy white flowers.  There are none of the big wild cherry trees at my place - too wet,  too much clay.  I will have to protect some of the bushes as soon as the berries start to form next year. 
 
Brenda Groth
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Location: North Central Michigan
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here some of the bushes still have red cherries, they haven't all turned black yet..

I was leaving them for a seasonal neighbor who I though was coming up this weekend but now says she won't be here until 27th..so I'm thinking of picking them as I'm fairly sure they won't last until the 27th ..so I might get another batch of jelly out of them if i beat the birds.

I'm hoping to plant some at my woods edge in the back (by putting out ripe berries in that area)..although the black bear really love these things..
 
Dan Boone
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It's an old thread but what the hey. I found some of these today -- or at least, my local wildcrafters group says they are chokecherries based on this picture. They are just starting to ripen, and yes it's very early by all accounts. But we had a hot dry April and May and the old-timers say everything is bolting, seeding, and ripening much earlier than usual around here.

I found the darkest colored ones quite pleasant to eat, tart but no more so than a pie cherry (which I've always enjoyed as hand fruit -- maybe because I grew up eating raw stalks of rhubarb?) However I only ate one or two because I wasn't sure of my ID until I got home with the pictures and did some more research.

choke-cherries-01.jpg
[Thumbnail for choke-cherries-01.jpg]
chokecherries starting to ripen
 
Ardilla Esch
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Location: Northern New Mexico, Zone 5b
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My neighbor makes chokecherry wine that's quite tasty. It isn't overly sweet like many fruit wines.
 
Charles Kelm
Posts: 170
Location: Western Washington (Zone 7B - temperate maritime)
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Mine is pretty tall. Says they grow to 16 feet:

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prunus_virginiana
 
Jennifer Quinn
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Chokecherry syrup is really good on pancakes or french toast. Cover the chokecherries with water and simmer for a while, strain, and sweeten til you like the way it tastes. Ta-da!
 
John Saltveit
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I grew them and they grew to be a lot taller than 6 feet out here. 16 feet sounds about right. We see them wild when we're rafting, hang gliding, hiking, etc.
John S
PDX OR
 
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