Chokeberries (Aronia melanocarpa) are highly astringent but make good jellies and jams, especially when combined with other fruit or berries, like apples, blackcurrants, red currants, raspberries, etc.
This recipe produces a rather small amount or jelly double or triple the quantity of ingredients, if needed.
Serve chokeberry jelly with various game, poultry and meat dishes, like steaks, roasts, etc.
Read more about chokeberries here.
500 ml chokeberries
125 ml water
1 medium apple
a piece of vanilla bean
pinch of whole cardamom seeds
sugar (for quantity, see instructions below)
(about ½ - 1 tbsp Cointreau or other citrus, berry or fruit liqueur/brandy or good cognac, whisky, etc)
The juice from chokeberries is highly staining, so protect the working surface with newspaper, plastic, baking parchment, etc.
In picture on right: clusters of chokeberries.
Rinse and drain the berries and pour in a saucepan. Peel and quarter the apple and add to the pan with the spices. Pour over the water.
Bring the mixture to the boil, lower the heat, cover with lid and let simmer slowly for about 30 minutes. As the berries start to soften, you may crush them slightly.
Meanwhile, line a large sieve with a clean, damp cheesecloth and place over a bowl, measuring jug or other suitable container. Pour the berries in the sieve and let the juice slowly run through the cheesecloth, for about half an hour or so. Do not stir or rub the mixture.
Measure the juice, then measure 80 grams of sugar for every 100 millilitres of juice (for larger quantities, take 800 grams of sugar for every 1 litre/1000 millilitres of juice).
Gently reheat the juice and let the sugar slowly melt in it. Raise the heat and let the juice simmer, uncovered, for about 15 to 20 minutes. Skim off any foam rising to the surface.
Test the jelly to see whether it is ready for canning: pour a little jelly on a chilled, small plate and let it cool for a while. Then draw your finger or a spoon across the jelly
if it leaves a clear path and does not run, it is ready for canning. If it is still very runny, continue cooking for a couple of minutes longer, yet no longer than 30 minutes in all.
Season the jelly with your choice of alcohol, if you like. Pour the hot jelly in hot jars sterilized with boiling water. Close with sterilized lids and let cool. Store the jelly in refrigerator.
Sometimes when cooking jellies, they will not set, but remain runny, no matter how long you let them cook. This happens because the fruit or the berries used do not contain enough pectin.
If a jelly made according to this recipe still will not set after it has been cooked for 30 minutes, some commercial fruit pectin should be added to it. In this case, follow the instructions in the pectin package.
Also jam sugar, already containing added fruit pectin, may be used instead of regular sugar. Follow the instructions in the jam sugar package.
Recipe source: adapted from traditional Finnish recipes.