Chokecherry Jelly Recipe; low sugar recipe

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I opted to do a low-sugar choke cherry jelly using Pomona’s Pectin. (I don’t suggest no-sugar chokecherry jelly, because chokecherries need a bit of sweetness.) I love it! The low-sugar jelly is a bit sweet, without being overly sweet. The texture of this is more like choke cherry jam. As you can see from the images, It is not jelly clear…but the directions call it jelly so that’s what I go with. 🙂 Yields 4-5 pints.

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Chokecherry Jelly: Extended, Step-By-Step Directions



  • 4 cups chokecherry juice
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 3/4–2 cups sugar
  • 4 tsp. Pomona’s Pectin
  • 4 tsp. calcium water (from the Pomona’s Pectin package)

How to Make Chokecherry Juice

The first step is to make a juice out of your chokecherries. Wash chokecherries, removing the stems and any leaves that snuck in. This sounds simple but when you are doing it you’ll soon realize those stems can be pesky! Pick them out best you can and don’t worry about it. You’ll be straining this and they last of those stems will be removed then. You would have to spend hours at this step to get them all out. Just get the biggest clumps as you can.

As you remove the stems and leaves, watch for any old berries or damaged berries. Remove them as well.

Place your picked through chokecherries in a pot and add a minimum of 4 cups water.

If this is not enough to cover your berries add more and get enough to cover. 4 cups is the minimum for one batch of jelly. If you’ve got more you can simply make more batches. It just depends on how many chokecherries you have.

Bring to a medium-high heat until it comes to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes. This will draw out the juice into the water you are simmering in.

How I strain my jelly/jam

The next step is to mash the berries with a potato masher After mashing, strain them through a double layer of cheesecloth or a jelly bag or jelly strainer. This is where all the pesky stems come out. Mashing the fruit is not usual when making jelly.

Most of the time when you are making jellies, you are trying to get a nice clear juice. With chokecherries it is difficult. This mashing step makes more of a cloudy juice. But chokecherries are not loaded with juices so it is pretty necessary.

You should end up with a cloudy juice that you now will use to make your jelly errr jam.

I use cheesecloth placed in a strainer over a pot to drain my mix well. It makes more cloudiness, but after it has strained and stopped dripping… I squeeze the bag just a bit. If you want to keep the cloudiness to a minimum, don’t squeeze. But it is cloudy anyway so I go ahead and get just a bit more juice out at the end.

You want to aim for 4 cups per batch.

Making Low Sugar Chokecherry jelly.

If you are using Pomonas pectin like I am it is just a little different than other pectins. So if you are not using Pomonas, just use the directions on your package instead of the steps below. Other pectins directions will be mixing things in a different order and Pomonas has ingredients you don’t have with other brands. (calcium water to be specific is only used by Pomonas.)

How to Make Chokecherry Jelly with Pomonas pectin.

First get your ingredients prepared.

  • Measure juice into large pan. Stir in calcium water and lemon juice.
  • Mix dry ingredients ,sugar and pectin, in a separate bowl.

That calcium water threw me the first time I used Pomonas. It is not complicated! It is just a little packet of powder you’ll find in the box. Mix it with water in a small jar and use a portion of it to make your jelly. You also need to mix the pectin in with the sugar or it will clump. (ask me how I know!)

FAQ- I’m often asked can I use fresh lemon juice?

No, the acidity of fresh can be different with each fruit. You need the acidity to get a proper jell. Bottle lemon juice is what you want so you know you’ve got the proper acidity.

So… juice, calcium water, and lemon juice in one bowl, sugar and pectin in another bowl.

I’ll link here to more specifics about how to use Pomonas Pectin.

  • Bring liquid ingredient mixture to a full rolling boil.
  • Gradually add sugar mixture, stirring well.
  • Return to a rolling boil.
  • Remove it from the heat as soon as it comes back to a boil! Many pectins have you boil for a minute, but this one is just bring to a boil and remove from heat.

If needed you can skim off any foam but I’ve found that this doesn’t foam a lot. Some people like to add a bit of butter (about 1/4 tsp) to prevent foaming. I don’t with this recipe.

Fill hot, clean jars with jelly, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Add clean lids and screw bands and place the jars in a hot water bath canner or steam canner.

(more on how to use a water bath canner here)

Canning and Processing

When your jars are all in the canner, process according to chart below, adjusting for altitude.

This recipe is for pint size jars. You can use half-pint if you want but you need to still process them as if they are a full pint.

Pinnable Recipe Card

Chokecherry Jelly

Step-by-step instructions for making and canning chokecherry jelly. The texture of this is more like chokecherry jam though. 🙂
Print Recipe
Chokecherry jelly spread on toast with an open jar of jelly to its side.
Prep Time:2 hours 30 minutes
Processing Pints (adjust for altitude):10 minutes
Total Time:2 hours 40 minutes



For Juice

  • Wash chokecherries, removing stems, leaves and debris.
  • Place in pot and add just enough water to cover. Minimum 4 cups needed for 1 batch jelly.
  • Bring to a boil.
  • Lower heat and simmer approximately 20–30 minutes.
  • Mash berries with a potato masher.
  • Strain them through a double layer of cheesecloth. Collect and measure your juice.

For Jelly

  • Start by preparing jars and getting water in the canner heating.You want the canner hot, but not boiling, when the jars are ready to be processed.
    See full water bath canning instructions here.  
  • Measure 4 cups juice into a large pan.
  • Stir in calcium water and lemon juice.
  • Mix sugar and pectin in a separate bowl.
  • Bring juice mixture to a full boil.
  • Add sugar mixture. Stir well. Return to a boil.
  • Remove from the heat as soon as it comes back to a boil. 
  • Fill clean, hot jar, leaving 1/4” headspace. 
  • Remove air bubbles, wipe rim clean, and place seal and rings. 
  • Place jar in the warm canner. Proceed to fill all jars. Process according to the instructions below. 


Processing with a Water Bath Canner
Place the jar in the warm canner. Proceed to fill all jars placing them in the canner.
When all the jars are filled, bring the water in the canner to a boil.  When a boil is reached that is when you’ll start your timing.   Process for the length of time on the chart below.  Adjust for your altitude. 
 After your time is over, turn the heat off remove the lid and allow the canner to rest for about 5 minutes. Then bring your jars up out of the water.  Allow them to rest for another 5 minutes. Then remove the jars and place them a few inches apart on a thick towel to cool completely.  Leave them alone for about 12 hours.  
When they are cooled remove the metal bands, check the seals, label the jars and store them away! 
Processing time for pints in water bath (hot pack).
  • 0-1,000 ft – 10 minutes
  • Above 1,000 ft – Add 1 minute more for every 1,000 feet above sea level
Source: Pomona’s Pectin package directions
Servings: 4 -5 pints

Chokecherry Jelly Tips & FAQs

How do you prepare chokecherries for making jelly?

If you ever have the opportunity to pick chokecherries, do it! It’s a great way to spend an afternoon! The flowers of a chokecherry bush flower in late spring and then you’ll need to watch for when the berries ripen. Wear gloves… your hands will turn colors.

When you wash chokecherries, you want to get as many stems off as you can, but they are tiny and pesky. If you don’t get them all, don’t worry about it. They will be strained out and won’t end up in your jelly. 

How do You Make Chokecherry Jelly with Regular Pectin?

If you don’t tend to care for low-sugar jelly, you’ll probably want to make a full-sugar version of this. Simply use regular pectin, following the package directions for the pectin of your choice. But remember, you do need to use pectin to get a nice gel. Chokecherries do not have much natural pectin. 

Should You Use Fresh or Frozen Chokecherries for Making Jelly?

You can use freshly picked chokecherries or frozen chokecherries. If you go with frozen, let them thaw before you add water to extract the juice. You’ll have more juice naturally and won’t need as much water.

How to Make Clear Chokecherry Jelly instead of Chokecherry Jam

Remember, jelly is usually a clear product. Chokecherry juice is rather cloudy, because you do need to mash them a bit to release the juice. I also can’t resist squeezing my cheesecloth. If you want it clearer, don’t squeeze the cloth! But remember, it still won’t be crystal clear like apple jelly, for instance. 

How Do You Fix Chokecherry Jelly that Didn’t Set

You can try to add a bit more pectin and reprocess your jelly but I don’t recommend it. It is a lot of work and sometimes doesn’t work anyway. I suggest just use your batch as a chokecherry syrup. Pour a bit over ice cream . Ooooh that cream and tartness of the chokecherries will be fantastic!

What Do Chokecherries Taste Like?

I would not say that chokecherries are sweet. They are sort of a bitter sweet flavor. That is why I don’t make a no sugar version. They really do need some sweetening. I like things that are not super sweet. My sweet tooth husband is not a big fan of this jelly. He would like a full sugar version.

Kind of like rhubarb. On it’s own it’s not so great…. but add some sugar (a little or a lot depending on your tastebuds) and that flavor really pops.

Related Pages

Jam or Jelly is a great first step to canning. Recipes here!

Cherry Pie Filling, canned in batches, gives you the freedom to make a cherry pie or cobbler on the fly! Just pop open a jar and pour into a pie crust. SimplyCanning shows you how easy it is!

Canning Cherries is great for quick cobblers, pies, or over ice cream!

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Titled, How to Make Chokecherry Jelly, includes a jar of jelly and toast, links to Pinterest.

Source: Pomona’s Pectin package directions

Page last updated: 6/28/2021

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