The chokecherry, a native shrub or small tree, thrives in New Mexico. In mid-August it produces a wild black cherry with a sour taste that sweetens when dried or cooked. The juice, loaded with antioxidants, makes a wonderful jelly. Eloise Henry, of Ratón, shared her Certo gelatin recipe in New Mexico’s Tasty Traditions, by Sharon Niederman, a cookbook published by New Mexico Magazine in 2010.

3 cups prepared chokecherry juice

6½ cups sugar

2 packets (6 ounces) Certo gelatin

Makes 6 jars

  1. In a heavy-bottomed pan, combine the juice and the sugar. Mix well. Stir constantly on high heat. Bring to a full rolling boil that continues while you stir. Add the Certo all at once while you keep stirring. Bring to a full rolling boil again and allow to boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Skim off the foam.
  2. Pour the hot liquid through a funnel into sterilized jars placed on a tray. Seal and store in refrigerator.


If life is a bowl of cherries, then a good life awaits you in New Mexico, where you can fill your bowl to brimming with fresh cherries grown throughout the state. The season starts in June in New Mexico’s cooler regions, and lasts three to four weeks. That’s when you’ll find fans of this sweet stone fruit climbing ladders in backyards and in orchards, cherry-picking their favorites. Sweet varieties include Rainier and Bing, while Montmorency and Danube are among the sour offerings. These red gems, plentiful today, were first brought to New Mexico by Spanish settlers, who introduced an array of fruit—apricots, pears, apples, plums, and quinces—as well as other foods. According to historical records, cherries were growing in New Mexico as early as 1630.

In this landmark cookbook from America's oldest state magazine, fifty recipes showcase classics from the archives and groundbreaking creations of contemporary chefs. Purchase the New Mexico Magazine Centennial Cookbook today!