So last week, I got to pick about 3L worth of chokecherries from my friend’s front yard tree.
I stewed the fruit and strained it through a seive in order to get as much juice and pulp as possible. (I didn’t actually get as much as possible because I didn’t start off scraping the bottom of the seive at regular intervals – I probably could have got an extra cup or two of fruit puree if I’d gone that route). What I wound up with was about 1L of fruit puree. I reserved 250mL of it in the fridge (for making chokecherry curd, later today) but the rest went into making this fancy-ass preserve that I’m calling a “chutney” but that is really closer to something like a chunky, savoury jam.
Regardless of what you want to name it, here’s the recipe:
10 “prune plums”, peeled and diced
½ C granulated sugar
3 C chokecherry puree
¾ C red wine vinegar
1 red onion, chopped
¾ C dried (sweetened) cranberries
¼ C dried currants
1 C granulated sugar
2 tsp dried rosemary
2 tsp dried mint
2 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp dried basil
Peel the plums (if you are stewing the chokecherries at the same time, you can chuck the plum skins in with them to stew, otherwise they can be added to fruit butters or even just composted).
Dice the plums. Toss them in a bowl with 1/2C granulated sugar and let sit for a few hours (possibly while you stew chokecherries, or possibly while you get something else done. Wevs).
Combine in a broad, somewhat shallow, pot: Chokecherry puree, diced plums, red wine vinegar and all other ingredients.
Stir periodically to prevent sticking, but mostly just bring to a boil and allow to simmer for an hour or so. If you leave the lid of the pot slightly askew, you can let the water boil off faster without splattering everything everywhere.
Sterilize some jars + lids and rings. I was expecting this to make upwards of 2L worth of chutney, but only got a little over half that much, so.
When the chutney is bubbling and nicely thickened (and the liquidy part will sort of glob together a little before dripping off a spoon), ladle it into your sterlized jars.
Cap and process in a boiling water bath for 10-15 minutes (using 1C jars).
Allow to cool, listening for the “plunk” that tells you they’ve properly sealed.
Makes 5C Chutney.
So there you have it.
I came up with the recipe because (a) it’s pretty easy to get your hands on free choke cherries around here, and (b) I wanted something in the same family as my usual rhubarbicue sauce (rhubarb chutney) that I didn’t make this year, since my rhubarb plants have been getting established and aren’t ready to be harvested yet.
It’s based really loosely on the “chokecherry chutney” recipe in Wild In the Kitchen – at least that’s where the fruit ratios got their start – but it departs radically from that recipe’s spicy-cherries-and-apples signature from there.
Chokecherries have a lot of tannin in them so, when I was considering flavour combinations, I went for things that pair well with red wine – plums and cranberries being the big ones – and that also paired well with both cherries (and plums) and with things that go well with red wine. Thus my choice to use cloves, yes, but also rosemary and mint in the mix.
This preserve pairs well with roast lamb, for sure, but also with pork and poultry. It makes a great spread for a ham or turkey sandwich, for example, but also works well (maybe thinned out just a little with some water or red wine) when used as a glaze for roast duck, braised pork shoulder, or barbecued spare ribs. I’m inclined to see how it would work as a (distant) alternative to tzaziki when eaten with something like sweet potato latkes or falafel.
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 I actually added the vinegar to the puree as I was making it, but do what you will.
 This was a fairly significant thing for me. It felt like forever before the mixture thickened up.
 There will still be some splatter, however, because we’re talking about boiling sugar and lots of chunky stuff that wants to sink to the bottom of the pan. Wear oven mitts while stirring, and maybe use the pot-lid as a shield, I’m just warning you.