11 August 2013

Pin Cherry Jelly

If I had to guess at the number of Pin and Choke cherry trees on my property I'd go with between two and three hundred of them. Across the three hundred and ten acres that abuts Superior National Forest they grow as common as weeds, they line every old logging road and the edges of every clear cut. They are down right prolific.

I'm blessed to have them and enjoy everything about them. Well the Pins are in and we set about collecting enough to make a year's worth of pin cherry jelly. Reality is they are very easy to harvest, it only took us about an hour to collect eight quarts or so of them.

While we were out we kept getting distracted by the thimble berries and the red raspberries. Kids spent more time looking down and eating them than collecting pin cherries!

Even so the haul on the cherries was more than enough to do what I needed.

I don't do anything fancy, though next year I think I'll switch pectins and go with a honey sweetener instead of sugar. Been hearing lots of good stuff about using honey in jellies and jams, I'm interested but wasn't ready to try it this year.

Pretty simple process I follow. Clean 'em, remove stems or most of what you can. Put in a pan and cover with water, boil until they are nice and soft and squishy.

From there I pour into cheesecloth or flour sack cloth which I place over a larger stock pot. The goal is to get the juice out. Because pin cherries are so small, the pit being large it would be exceedingly difficult to make a jam so you collect the juice in quantity.

After doing that repeatedly I ended up with nearly six full quarts of pin cherry juice! From there I transfer the juice into this large container. Sometimes I use it for ice tea, or lemonade, in this case cherry juice dispenser. I fill a regular quart mason jar with 3.5 cups of the stuff which then goes into a pot with the pectin, bring to a boil and add the sugar, stirring constantly till a vigorous boil for one minute.

Once that's done I follow the normal canning process, pouring into sterilized small jars then boil etc etc. Some how my normal set up went missing, still have the lid to my giant pressure cooker but not the base. I'm thinking one of the kids used it for something they shouldn't have because I can't find it anywhere. Had to improvise, pot, jar rings in the bottom, boil away.

 Here's the end product, 19 jars and I've still got at least 4 quarts of juice that we'll freeze and use like a concentrate to make cherry juice drinks later. My process might not be what others do, it's worked for me so far and I've seen no reason to change it.

Nothing like some tart fire cherry jelly on some butter toast with some oatmeal on a cool morning! Ugh I AM HUNGRY!


  1. Yum! Definitely sounds like Bear food ;)

  2. I can just imagine the aroma of you kitchen during the process. Mouthwatering.

    Trade? A couple of pints of dewberry jam for cherry?

    1. Sounds good to me, never tried dewberry jam! I'm on the road again this week, I'll reach out with the details later this week, thanks for the offer!


  3. Jim:
    I just love your blog. I ll trade you some (Florida) datil pepper vinegar sauce for some!!

  4. Great stuff, Jim! I bet that jelly will be much appreciated during the long, dark winter. :)


  5. Hi Jim I just tuned in. By chance can I purchase some pin cherry trees, noone sells them anywhere, especially here in Winona Mn SE. We used to live in Staples MN, they were everywhere!! Watching you make the jelly relives my childhood. Can you help me out?