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HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN: spacer Wild Black Cherry Jelly
Copyright:  Mike Sillett

Part 1 - Getting The Juice


1. Intro
2. Materials
3. Kitchen Equipment
4. Procedure

Photo of ripe Wild Black Cherries.'

1. Intro

Do you know of any of your friends and acquaintances that utilize wild black cherries. I bet not. I will go so far as to say that even you don't use them. Yet they are so ubiquitous and so very tasty, when a good tree is found, that it is surprising that more people don't eat them or use them regularly.

Every mid August, when I am out-and-about foraging, scouting, native trout fishing or wild mushroom picking I make a definite detour to some wild black cherry trees I have used for years to eat my fill. I enjoy them immensely. While i am eating those I gather a couple of quarts for my yearly allotment of wild black cherry jelly.
It is my second most favorite jelly. Blueberry is first and elderberry is third. Marmalades, jams, preserves and syrups are in a different league and have different 'places' on my list.

If you make wild black cherry jelly like I do below I am sure it will be near the top of your list as well.

This tutorial is in two parts:
Part 1 - Getting The Juice.
Part 2 - Making The jelly.

2. Materials

Two or three quarts of wild black cherries.
( we want to end up with 2 1/2 cups of juice )

Approximately 2 quarts of crabapples.
( we want to end up with 1 cup of juice )
( they are easy to pick. they are available at the same time. crabapples have a high pectin content. The juice will not effect the flavor of the finished black cherry jelly. And, by picking 2 quarts of crabapples for the juice in them, you will save a lot of time that it would take you to pick another quart or two of wild black cherries. )

Three cups of sugar.

One package of powdered pectin.

Two generous squirts of ReaLemon
( turns out that equals 1/3 of a cup )

4. Procedure

The wild black cherries should have been washed off, rinsed and then allowed to soak in fresh water for a couple of days. We are only talking about a couple of quarts so put them in a bowl and place the bowl in the refrigerator.

They will soak up the water, get fattened up and will split their sides. You will get a lot of juice from these.

Photo showing a batch, about 2.5 quarts, of soaked wild black cherries.'
A batch of soaked wild black cherries.

Remove them from the water they have been soaking in and put them into a food mill. We won't be cooking these to liberate juice, we will be getting our juice via the food mill.
If you have a Foley food mill you may need to adjust the knob so it is not too tight. We don't want to crush or break the seeds.

Photo of the Foley food mill in use.'
Liberating the juice via a food mill.

When done with all the cherries in the food mill and it appears there is no more juice being squeezed through you can use a colender and a spatula, even your fingers, and mix up the mash and you will get some more juice.
You want a colender that is fine sieved so the seeds don't go through.

Photo showing the mashed black cherries from the Foley food mill being worked in the colender to squeeze out as much juice as possible.
Squeezing out more juices with the colender. Keep stirring the mash with a spatula.

Collect all your juice from the food mill step and pour it all into a muslin cloth draped in a colender, over a bowl or pot.

Photo showing the dumping of the wild black cherry mash being dumped into muslin for filtering.
The muslin cloth used to filter the mash. It sits over a colender which sits over a bowl.

Work the muslin around.
Pull here and there, always making sure to keep the muslin down in the colender. We are trying to make sure that the mash always has some portion of fresh, unclogged muslin for the juice to filter through.

Photo showing how to move the muslin around to provide a bit more fresh, unclogged filtering material.
The muslin hard at work.
However, it clogs quickly so you have to 'work it' so that you always manage to slide fresh, unclogged portions of muslin under the mash.

Keep moving the muslin around from under the mash so that the mash always has some unclogged muslin to filter through. If you just let it sit there you will be waiting until Winter's frost. The muslin clogs fast and dams up the muslin fibers so that nothing can get through. That's why we want to keep sliding the muslin around always providing a bit of unclogged area to allow the juices through.

Photo showing the continued working of the muslin filtering material.
The muslin is almost all used up. Luckily I am almost at the end of this step.

Now we have the first filtered wild black cherry juice.

Rinse out your muslin as good as possible in fresh water and do the same thing again. You will end up with a rich maroon colored juice that is very aromatic of cherry.

Photo of the filtered wild black cherry juice ready for use in making jelly.
Here is the finished juice. Filtered twice and ready for the jelly cooking steps.

Continue to Part 2 - Making The Jelly


Wild Black Cherry Jelly, Part 1 - Getting The Wild Black Cherry Juice

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