Chokecherry Cordial


Chokecherry cordialThis morning I tasted the chokecherry cordial that’s been brewing in my fridge for the past three or four months, pronounced it completely awesome, and set about straining and bottling the first batch and starting another.

Last fall, after harvesting a couple gallons of chokecherries, I made a large amount of juice that I thought I might make into jelly.  Everyone had told me the berries were way too sour to ingest without a generous lacing of sugar, but when I tasted that juice, it wasn’t that sour at all.

Instead of making the juice into jelly, as I’d planned, we just drank the juice straight up (and discovered that doing so is akin to eating large amounts of cheese in terms of what it does to the digestive tract). The rest of the cherries were washed, bagged, and frozen in the following ratio: 3 cups cherries to one cup sugar.

A few months ago, I took a bag of those cherries out of the freezer and crammed them into a bottle (using a funnel and a chopstick), covering them with vodka.  Every once in awhile I’d shake the bottle, and eventually the liquid turned a deep reddish-purple color.

I’m somewhat concerned about the inclusion of the pits in this preparation–they do have trace amounts of cyanide (like peach pits and apple seeds), and I’m wondering if that will be a problem since I soaked the fruits whole in the vodka.

All the information I’ve read about the pits is that you’re safe as long as you don’t cook or crush the pits or consume them in large amounts–but alcohol is a strong extractive agent.  Still, I think serving the cordial in small amounts should be OK–and a small amount is really all you need!

As always, I’m happy to test my own recipes on myself–and this one is both gorgeous and delicious!  I may start making other kinds of cordials based on what fruits are in season (for home consumption only, of course), and once I get through this bottle of Smirnoff, I can switch to Still 173’s local vodka and rum for the base.

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8 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Christina Walter on May 25, 2009 at 6:32 pm

    Thanks for the recipe and the link to homegrown vodka!

  2. LOL Smirnoff for experimental purposes… move onto better stuff when ready! Really enjoyed this – my wife likes a vodka martini but she’s going to have to give something like this a try.

    I second Christina’s thanks for the homegrown link!

  3. Posted by Katie Wallace on August 17, 2009 at 10:41 am

    Wondering if you think this would work with just the juice and the vodka together? I’ve already gone ahead and boiled the chokecherries in water and strained them out to get great looking juice. BUT, I have so much jelly already made that I’m wanting to use the juice for something else. Anything tried and true for you?

  4. Posted by flyingtomato on August 18, 2009 at 5:37 pm

    It might work to just use juice and vodka, but it wouldn’t be sweet like a cordial. I would add at least a little sweetener of some kind.

  5. Posted by Colette Goetz on August 21, 2009 at 8:02 pm

    My recipe for chokecherry cordial is as follows..
    4 to 41/2 cups chokecherries
    2 cups sugar
    1 fifth of vodka
    Place in a gallon jar, shake or
    stir several times a day for 2 or 3 days until
    sugar is dissolved.
    Put in dark place for 3 months.
    Strain and bottle
    It is definitely worth the wait.

  6. Posted by Adelia Herndon on April 3, 2011 at 5:53 pm

    The last post was Aug 2009….so did the trace cyanide adversely affect you?

  7. Posted by B.M. Dow on August 30, 2011 at 11:35 am

    If you don’t crush the seeds there will be no problems with the trace amount of cyanide. Also, fyi according to the USDA cooking or drying the seeds neutralizes it. Native Americans used crushed chokecherries in their pemmican.

  8. Posted by mark menager on August 24, 2012 at 8:28 am

    I have used Chokecherry syrup since I was a kid and it never bothered me.

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