Place chokecherries in a stockpot large enough that it is only ¾ full. Cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. With a fine sieve or a jelly bag, strain off liquid into a heat-safe bowl, saving the fruit. Place the chokecherries back in the stockpot and cover with water. Simmer for another 30 minutes, straining liquid into the previous yield. Repeat a third time to utilize the fruit to its full potential, but on the third time, the fruit should be thoroughly mashed in the liquid to derive all of its juices. Discard pulp and seeds.
For each 3 cups of chokecherry liquid, add 1 1/2 cups of sugar (or to taste) and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer briskly for 15 minutes. Test consistency by drizzling a small amount of liquid onto a cold plate. Syrup should be thickened but flow freely when cool. (For jelly, continue to simmer until liquid drizzled on plate sets up. In my experience I haven‘t needed to use pectin for chokecherry jelly, although the riper the fruit, the less true this is.) Pour syrup or jelly into sterilized jars and seal according to manufacturer’s directions.
Easy pickings: Chokecherry enthusiasts recommend picking prior to 11a.m., then quickly cooling the fruit in order to preserve its colour, flavour and texture. If not being immediately processed (within a day or two), freeze cherries until ready to use.
Where to find it: Although chokecherries may be found all along B.C. highways, look to lesser used side or back roads or other accessible areas in order to keep out of traffic’s way. To be sure of a positive identification, visit www.museum.gov.ns.ca/poison/cherry.htm for an excellent picture. Note: Like other members of its family, chokecherry pits are toxic. Do not ingest them.