August 5, 2013 • Beverages,
I’ve been watching my dogs and the squirrels at our house devour the chokecherries for years now, but for some reason was never compelled to pick them myself and do anything with them. Until last week, that is. I was having a Little House on the Prairie sort of weekend – I canned dill pickles, made Limoncello, and cured some bacon pancetta style – and for some reason I couldn’t stop there.Chokecherries are easy to pick – either snip off the tiny bunches that droop down with some kitchen shears, or simply use your hand to sort of strip the berries right into a bowl. I harvested about 6 cups of berries in about 10 minutes – pretty easy work.No matter what you are going to do with the chokecherries – chokecherry syrup, chokecherry-apple butter, chokecherry liqueur – it seems the first step is to make juice. Place them in a pot and just barely cover with water. Simmer for 15 minutes then mash them with a potato masher then press them through a fine mesh strainer to collect the juice. My 6 cups yielded 2 cups of juice – not bad!Making chokecherry liqueur is much like making limoncello – mix some sugar into the juice, mix with grain alcohol, and bottle. The mixture needs to sit for a month before serving – according to Milly Mathiason who won the 1990 Chokecherry Festival with this recipe. (I know, who knew that festival even existed, right?!) I put my bottles away to use as party favors for my New Year’s Eve dinner party. Won’t those look pretty on the table?
- 2 cups chokecherry juice
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ cup grain alcohol (Everclear)
- Heat juice and sugar just until sugar dissolves. Add alcohol and mix well. Pour into bottles and allow to rest at least 1 month. Serve chilled.
31 Comments • Comments Feed
Bill from Montana says:
Taste is good, but mine came out a bit cloudy. I strained it thru a colinder, then fine wire mesh strainer, and finally some nylons. How long, if every till the berry sediment separates from the clear liquid.
August 16, 2014 at 6:04 am
Bill, mine is a little cloudy too – I just let it sit undisturbed so that when I carefully pour it, the sediment remains in the bottom. Think of it like an unfiltered and unfined wine!
August 18, 2014 at 3:30 pm
joyce lanigan says:
WHEN YOU DO THE STRAINING THROUGH THE CHEESECLOTH AFTER THE FINE STRAINER………… DO NOT SQUEEZE. JUST LET THE JUICE COLLECT BY ITSELF…. WHEN YOU SQUEEZE THE CHEESECLOTH (WHICH IS THE BEST TO STRAIN) YOU GET THE LITTLE BITS OF REALLY FINE PULP.
JUST LET IT DRAIN BY ITSELF…. THE CLOUDINESS DOESN’T AFFECT THE TASTE….JUST THE APPEARANCE. IT WILL TURN REALLY CLEAR IF YOU DON’T SQUEEZE
August 30, 2015 at 2:11 pm
Sharon Eaton says:
I make my cordial with 4 cups cherry juice , 4 cups sugar. Then add 3 cups vodka & 1/2 cup Amaretto.
July 20, 2016 at 2:10 pm
Easy and delish. So smooth 5 stars!
March 8, 2017 at 4:37 pm
I just made my first batch. Do you let it sit for a month, in the refrigerator, or is room temperature ok? Thank you
August 4, 2017 at 2:02 pm
Doesn’t need to be refrigerated – the alcohol is the preservative!
August 4, 2017 at 2:21 pm
Kathleen McLean says:
Hello and thank you for posting your recipe. This is my first time making anything with the chokecherries. I have to admit I tried a little sweetened liqueur mix in a glass with strawberry seltzer and ice….wow! Incredibly tasty! The birds may have competition now with who gets the berries 🙂
Thank you for sharing!!
August 8, 2017 at 5:26 am
Does the liquor have to be similar proof as Everclear or can it be any hard alcohol?
August 14, 2017 at 3:55 pm
I always use grain alcohol in my liqueur recipes because it seems to extract the flavors better for me, but you can also use vodka if you prefer.
August 14, 2017 at 3:57 pm
Ever tried different sugars like corn sugar (glucose) instead of table sugar (sucrose)? I know corn sugar is used for priming in yeast brewing. I’m just curious if using corn sugar would make for a lighter liquor and easier on the stomach or if there’s any differences with flavor. I could experiment and try both on my own, but I’ve yet to see anywhere on the net pertaining to a question like this. So I thought I’d ask.
May 27, 2018 at 11:22 pm
No I haven’t but let me know how it turns out!
May 28, 2018 at 3:06 pm
Jane Ryburn says:
Can I put the choke cherries in my juicer? Also can I use honey instead of sugar? This is a recipe I would like to try as it seems the easiest and fastest way of using the berries. My boy friend has 4 huge tubs in his freezer and I don’t like using a lot of sugar so was looking for the best recipe to use them up!!!
May 28, 2018 at 11:07 am
I’m worried if you put them in the juicer it might break up the pits? I guess you could try it since you seem to have plenty to mess around with!
May 28, 2018 at 3:07 pm
Deborah Quinn says:
My 6 cups of berries , slightly covered with water made 5 cups of juice. And it’s very cloudy. Now what -do I double the recipe ????? Any thoughts to help me ?
July 19, 2018 at 4:00 pm
Deborah, I’m sorry I’m just seeing this comment – I’ve been out of pocket with some surgery. I’m assuming you’ve already made your liquor by now, but if not, I would always keep the ratio of juice to alcohol the same, so 5 cups of juice would yield 2.5 times the recipe. Let me know how it turned out!
August 7, 2018 at 6:15 pm
I’m about to try this, can you use honey instead of sugar?
August 8, 2018 at 8:45 pm
In baked goods honey doesn’t sub one for one with sugar – usually less honey and reduce other liquids. In this case, you’d probably just reduce the volume of honey. I don’t know if when it cools the honey will get lumpy – but give it a try!
August 9, 2018 at 7:36 am
I made this recipe. Great use of free berries from essentially weeds. It did take over a year for the particulates to gather in a ball at the bottom. Then I poured off the good stuff. It is delicious.
August 13, 2018 at 7:06 am
Did you cut the everclear to something like 40 proof or did you use it straight out the of the bottle.
September 4, 2018 at 9:05 am
I did not cut it at all Tom – the juice and the sugar cuts the alcohol percent, but if you want it lower in alcohol use vodka instead of grain alcohol.
September 6, 2018 at 9:24 am
Denis parteka says:
after you bottle this liquor do you have to seal the bottles or jars?
August 7, 2019 at 5:46 pm
I don’t seal them – just screw the tops on!
August 10, 2019 at 10:16 am
Darci L Stewart says:
What would be the final alcohol percent? Would it be 22 percent? Is that enough to preserve?
I’m terrible with the math percentages…LOL
Thank you and I love chokecherries and chokecherry syrup for pancakes!
September 25, 2019 at 9:30 am
I didn’t do that math to figure that out, but I don’t think it freezes which means it would be higher like vodka.
October 20, 2019 at 2:28 pm
Debra Johnson says:
Just curious if I need to let the mixture cool in the bottles before putting the tops on?
Thank you! Look forward to seeing how this turns out. This is my first time making it.
August 18, 2020 at 4:00 pm
Debra, it’s been a long time since I made that, but I don’t recall cooling it first. With anything like this I usually put the top on loosely then tighten when cool.
August 24, 2020 at 11:12 am
Bruce Christie says:
Went exactly as described. Now I wait for a month. Thank you
September 5, 2022 at 4:34 pm
Julie Klarich says:
I used chokecherry juice that was going to be made into jelly. Since it already had sugar, I used it. I combined Everclear and the already processed juice. However, it has turned to sludge. It looks like I used way to much Everclear, but it seems odd that the sludge would occur rather than just being very strong. Thoughts?
October 18, 2022 at 1:10 pm
I’m so sorry Julie but I have no idea!
February 10, 2023 at 8:20 am
I bet the juice had a high enough pectin content to react with the alcohol. There is a way to test pectin content by dropping a bit of the juice into straight alcohol to see if it gels or not. Sometimes chokecherries are high in pectin.
February 12, 2023 at 6:39 pm