Picture this- a nice sunny day mid to late Summer with plenty of fresh berries surrounding you while you pick clusters of them from the branches. Sounds like the ideal way to spend a day! There is a lot of satisfaction that comes from picking fresh berries (especially wild ones).
I had a wonderful time at a friend’s cabin while carefully selecting the choke cherries that were ripe for the picking.
Many of life lessons can also be found while hanging out amongst the tree tops. Such a simple act on the surface can have a deeper meaning when passing on the tradition to our youth.
One Single Act – Being outdoors and having only one task at hand can be very calming and a great excuse to unplug from technology. What a great opportunity for getting some solo time in! Have a berry picking buddy? The one on one time is wonderful to catch up on life, love and to have a few laughs along with way. The only distraction is being present in the moment which is really something to treasure.
Don’t Get Greedy – I am a big philosopher on take what you need, share with others and leave some for others. So much is wasted now a days and the consumption of food products seem to be at a all time high. Picking what you can consume and what you will share with others is just enough. I like to leave some for the birds and other wild life as well as others than may come after me to pick.
Do a Risk Assessment – In life as is business there can be some risk involved in our actions. Looking for those big juicy berries at the top? They really do look fantastic! Am I going to risk falling from the highest branch or leaning over the edge of a drop off for them? Hmmm… It would make the jam, jelly or syrup SO GOOD! Nah, I think I better just leaves those ones for the birds.
Karma Likes the Outdoors Too – Don’t believe me? Try shaking a bush to knock off some berries and have it come back right at you. I’ve seen it happen and from the sidelines it is pretty funny but being gentle with the branches as you bend them to retrieve the fruits of their labour is highly recommended. A gentle touch and cupping your hand to pull the berries off is a wonderful thing.
Leave Things How You Have Found It (or even better!) – My daughter is somewhat squeamish of bugs sometimes and I simply remind her that we are in their environment. This is their home. The rules are simple, bring what you need, don’t leave anything behind and enjoy your time while you are there. If you happen to come across some trash on your travels, pick it up and put it where it belongs.
Following a solo mindful picking fest with these choke cherries I have brought home enough to make 2 batches of syrup. One for my family and one to share. It is sweet and the perfect accompaniment to some toasty warm waffles or pancakes. Hints of vanilla brighten the cherry flavour with every bite.
Happy berry (and fruit) picking! Hope all your sweet treats are shared with others and all your jars seal the first time around.
Vanilla Choke Cherry Syrup
Wild choke cherries make for a sweet syrup topping for waffles, pancakes and even ice cream!
- 3 cups fresh choke cherry juice
- 6 cups sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- Mash the cherries & strain through a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth.
- *alternatively if you have a fruit/berry juice steamer, place the washed choke cherries on the top level of the steamer. Fill the bottom layer with water and let steam for about 40 minutes. Strain the juice through coming out of the line once it starts to flow.
- Measure out 3 cups of choke cherry juice & combine it in a large pot. Add in the stir and stir. Cook over high heat & bring to a hard boil, let continue to boil for about a minute.
- Remove from heat & skim off the top foam. Add in the vanilla extract and stir.
- Pour hot syrup into hot sterilized jars and allow about 1/8 of an inch head space from the top.
- Add the lids and jar rims. Process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes. Remove and let cool completely. Do not disturb for 24 hours, then store in a cool dry place.
- Once opened store the refrigerator.
To Make the Choke Cherry Juice - Thoroughly wash choke cherries & place in a large saucepan with lid. Add the water until the tops are just covered. Cook over medium high heat with lid on for about 30 minutes until the choke cherries are cooked.
Vanilla Choke Cherry Syrup