When my husband proposed to me, he took me to this beautiful cabin near Big Timber, Montana. The property was loaded with choke cherries. We started going every year around Labor Day and picking loads and loads of the choke cherries. That lasted about 7 years and then we no longer had kids at home and really didn't have a need for 25 pints of choke cherry syrup and jelly.
Last summer, my husband and I moved back into a house that we had leased to other people for the previous 5 years. We began a long year of renovations - adding a shed to the back yard, replacing and widening the driveway, adding a door to the back of the garage, and gutting and redoing the kitchen were just a few of the projects we tackled :)
This summer, as I was finishing up some yard work, I became aware that a tree in the back corner of the yard was a choke cherry tree. Whaaaat?!? How did I never notice that before? So I picked all the ones I could reach (eight cups worth) and left the rest for the birds.
This I headed over to pinterest to find a recipe for just the right amount of syrup. I found this one by Hilda and guess what? She even used Montana choke cherries! Hilda's Choke Cherry Syrup Recipe
There were a couple of things that I did differently and I will do my best to explain them.
The first thing that I did differently that Hilda was that after mashing the cherries for 1/2 an hour and not getting as much juice as i wanted, I put the cherries in muslin and twisted it to get the juice out. This was much easier and much faster without as much flesh in the juice.
The other thing was because I was just making a little, I just froze it instead of canning. It was easier for us, but if I was gifting it, I would have canned it.
I just realized the neighbor down the street has a bing cherry tree. Have you seen the beautiful color that juice is? I keep hoping to catch them outside to see if they would let me pick some, but no luck as of yet. I'll keep you posted!
I am a recently retired small town librarian living the dream in Montana in my boujee yet redneck kind of way. Married to a mining engineer and mother to two wonderful young men.