So, in addition to linking to this post at Seasonal Ontario, which documents what is typically available all through the Ontario Food Year, I also wanted to talk a bit about Choke cherries.
I’ve only just started cluing into them. I wasn’t entirely sure if they were edible. Half of me thought they were, and half of me thought they weren’t. (Where is the line between tannins-a-go-go and this-bitterness-is-poison, again?) But, yes, they are. The key, I gather, is to pick then when they’re slightly over-ripe (very, very black, not even a hint of red or wine colour anywhere), at which point they’ll be acerbic, definitely, but they won’t make your mouth go numb.
Choke cherries, being an indigenous wild cherry, are all over the place. In weedy lots, sure, but also planted in front yards and parks by city officials and home-owners who wanted easy-to-care-for trees that looked kind of cool (purple leaves, long frilly flowers, and subtle yet still eye-catching fruit). And the fruit is generally just left to rot off the tree, like so much other front yard fruit around here.
There’s a tree in one of my local parks (YAY!) and tonnes of others within easy reaching distance along sidewalks around town, so I’ve got no shortage of availability. My plan is try making (a) choke cherry jelly, and (b) choke cherry syrup. Since my sweetie and I have Big Plans to try brewing apple-pear cider (using wild apples and cultivated pear-scrumps, plus Whatever) this year, we may also throw in some cherries or other berries to add some extra zing of flavor. Some pitted choke cherries or sour cherries may find their way into the mix, as well as a scoop or two of honey.
I’m also kind of curious about doing a fruit-leather – take mashed apple pulp and mashed pick-a-fruit pulp and mix them together, then spread the mixture on a lightly-oiled baking sheet and dry it out in an oven on super-low heat for many, many hours, flipping it over part way through. It makes for a good dried fruit snack and, duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuude… there are SO MANY apples around town, you have no idea…
Anyway. This is my plan.
Chokecherries! Who knew?
– Meliad, the Birch Maiden
 The kind of thing you could mix up with sparkling water for a lemonade-like drink, y’know? Basically, I’m always on the look-out for lemon-substitutes. What can I use instead of lemon juice for this dressing or those cupcakes, or that chicken dish. Right now, cranberries are kind of in the lead, but I’d like to try my hand at using rosehip/hawthorn/chokecherry juice (or syrup) as a stand-in as well. Thoughts? Suggestions?