Capulín (chokecherry) harvest

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I would say capulín is an iconic food of northern New Mexico.  It is native to the Americas, I hear the ones in Mexico have fruit berries that grow several times larger than ours.  About half of the berry is the seed which makes processing somewhat difficult.  We have dried to berries for use in homemade cough syrup, also using elderberry (frutilla or chacague (sp?) and osha.  But for the most part capulín is used to make jelly and wine.  The nice thing is once the juice is mostly extracted for jelly making, the remaining pulp can then be used to make wine.  Of course a stronger quality wine is made from using the capulín exclusively for this purpose.  The wine is so strong it would be more adequately called brandy.

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To make jelly, the juice is extracted from the berries using an old style food mill (or colador in Spanish).  This process smashes out the juice while leaving the seeds behind.  Then the juice is boiled with crab apples to provide some the jelling part of the jelly as crab apples are a natural source of pectin.  Sugar is of course added to make it sweeter but also to deter bacterial growth.  The jelly in the sealed jars are boiled and then cooled to make a good seal.  The making of jelly is an art form that I am thankful to countless grandmas, tias (aunts), primas (cousins), and especially my wife for keeping this delicious art form going…

The result of several gallons of capulín yielded only 6 medium sized jars of jelly, which is a testament to its value.  Capulín jelly has a distinct flavor of tartness and sweetness at the same time and is the best!  If more water and less crab apples are used, capulín syrup can be made instead of jelly.

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About Miguel

Miguel Santistevan is a researcher, educator, and advocate for traditional agriculture crops and systems.
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2 Responses to Capulín (chokecherry) harvest

  1. Mel sanchez says:

    do you sell chokecherry jam? where can I buy some
    thank you

    • Miguel says:

      Hello,

      I am not sure if I had replied to your message, sorry. But I do not sell chokecherry jam but when I go to the local Farmers’ Markets in Taos, there is always this lady from Mora who is selling. I think there are some other local vendors as well. Are you in the area? I can keep an eye open and see, though the winter season overcame us and the Farmers’ Markets are almost over… Hope that helps…

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