Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Choke Cherry Season

Choke Cherry Season has arrived!

ripe colorado choke cherries
 I've written about these before, but here's another look. These were staple food crops of indians traveling through and living in th' rocky mountain region, and it's no wonder, they are absolutely fabulous. Of course my family seems to be the only ones we know who think so, but the Kiowa knew, the Cheyenne knew, the Lakota knew. They also made tea from th' twigs and inner bark, and drank it for pleasure and sore throats.

 We are grateful to be living at th' base of the foothills, so now we have ripe chokecherries. We can drive up the canyons into th' mountains and find cherries just turning purple, which will be ripe in a few weeks, and cherries just turning red, which will be ripe in a month or so. So that makes our harvest season from mid july-september, and we take full advantage of it, mostly making fruit leather, which we eat almost faster than we can make it. It's delicious. Gives you energy too. Makes you feel like a kid. What grown-ups do you know that get giddy over fruit leather? We do.

Choke cherries turn black long before they ripen, you'll know they're ripe when they strip easily from th' tree, with just th' brush of your hand pulling them down. If it takes force, leave 'em be a while. I just pull my hand gently down th' clusters and all th' ripe ones fall in. Then i'll come back later and try again, or just leave 'em for th' bears and coons. And with our massive fire, there's gonna be some hungry bears this summer and fall. 

i picked these in under twenty minutes.
 Here they are strained and spread out to dry. I first mash them through a fruit strainer, then take all that's left and put it in a skillet, add a little water and simmer for about ten minutes. This i'll run through th' strainer again and then spread it all out about a quarter of an inch thick and let it dry in th' sun.
choke cherry fruit leather dryin in th' sun
 Once it's dry to th' touch i slice it up, let it dry a bit longer, then flip it over. Usually at this point we can no longer resist the urge to eat and by th' time it's dry half of it's gone. But it only needs to be dry to keep it, and we want to eat it. Never the less, some of it does get dry, and we eat fruit leather proper. To read more about it click here


  1. That sound delicious my friend. I must try to make some of this fruit leather sometimes...would it work with blackberries? that is if we get any this year, it's been so damp so far this year.

    1. Joel, you can use most any kind of fruit... and if it's too damp to sun dry it use an oven or a food dehydrator-

  2. I also make leathers for my vegetables. So much easier to store and nibble on. Manage to make some fig leather, this year, and still have some to carry us over the winter! No small task, since all you want to do is eat it! Come visit when you can.