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Traditional Foods - Chokecherries

Traditionally, chokecherries were a very important part of the Native Americans' diet. Chokecherries are collected in the fall when the berries ripen. The berries are high in vitamins A and C. There are may uses for the chokecherries. Chokecherries can be dried into patties and consumed later. Chokecherries can be used to make syrups, jams, jellies, wojapi and wasna.

Chokecherries contain the highest amounts of an antioxidant called anthocynin, which studies have shown to reduce the severity of colon cancer by 80%. Numerous studies have shown that the antioxidants in chokecherries have huge health benefits for cardiovascular disorders, anti-inflammatory responses, colon cancer and diverse degenerative diseases.

Did you know?

Chokecherries have a medicinal use. Chokecherries can be used as an astringent for coughs and colds and can also be used to treat digestive problems. According to oral traditions, grounded chokecherry pits act as a colon cleanser.


Source: Great Plains Good Health and Wellness Program: "Tradition and Nutrition feed your DNA" gptchb.org


Chokecherry Patties

INGREDIENTS:

  • Ripe Chokecherries

Instructions:

Grind whole chokecherries, including pits until it is a fine consistency. Using about a 1/4 cup of chokecherries, shape into a round , thin patty. Place the patties in a food dehydrator with about 1/2 inch space between patties. Chokecherry patties take 12-16 hours to dry. Flip the patties every 2-3 hours to ensure even drying.

Nutritional Information:

Calories per serving 97, protein 1.8g, total fat 1g, sodium 3g, total carbohydrates 20.2g.


Wojapi

Long ago, wojapi consisted of ripen chokecherries, and crushed tinpsila (wind turnips). Our ancestors would only use the ripened dark chokecherries, so sugar wasn't needed. The crushed wild turnip was used to add thickness to the chokecherries, giving it a pudding like texture. Nowadays, we add sugar and cornstarch into our wojapi for flavor and texture.

INGREDIENTS:

  • chokecherry patties
  • water
  • cornstarch
  • sugar or honey

Instructions:

Soak five chokecherry patties in water overnight to make a small pot of wojapi. Pour the patties and water into a sauce pan the next day and bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil for one hour, stir frequently until the patties are broken up in the boiling. Once the patties are dissolved in the boiling water, reduce heat to low, prepare cornstarch mixtue by combining 1 teaspoon of cornstartch with 1/4 cup of water mixing thouroghly in a measuring cup. While stirring the cherries constantly, pour a little bit of the cornstarch mixture in, keep stirring for a couple of minutes, if mixture is thin, add more cornstarch mixture and stir until it is the consistancy of pudding. Sweeten with sugar or honey to taste.

Nutritional Information:

Calories per serving 42, protein 0.5g, total fat 0.2g, sodium 1.8mg, total carbohydrates 10.4g.


Source: Great Plains Good Health and Wellness Program: "Tradition and Nutrition feed your DNA" gptchb.org




The Recipe for Lakȟóta Chokecherry Soup a.k.a. Wóžapi

Wild chokecherries, čhaŋpȟá (Prunus virginiana) and wild plums, kȟáŋta (Prunus americana) are another Lakȟóta sacred food. They ripen during the Lakȟóta high holy days, the Sundance and Visionquest season.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 cups chokecherries
  • 2 cups wild plum juice
  • 1⁄4 cup wild prairie turnip flour
  • honey or sugar to taste

Instructions:

Mash the fruit and combine with the juice in a sauce pan. Simmer until the fruit just comes to a boil. Sweeten to taste with honey or sugar. Remove a small amount of the liquid and combine with the prairie turnip flour (arrowroot or cornstarch may be substituted) to make a paste. Gradually mix the prairie turnip flour mixture back into the fruit soup and simmer until thickened. This is done to avoid having lumps in the wóžapi. Great with Lakȟóta Fry Bread!


Source: "Lakota and Kiowa Recipies" http://uufeaston.org/download/Sermons/Sermons%20-%20by%20Others/Lakota%20Sprituality%20-%20John%20Moore/Lakota%20and%20Kiowa%20Recipes.pdf




Wasna

The Lakota diet was high in protein and often the tribe either had much food to eat, such as after they killed a buffalo, or very little. One of the traditional recipes that the Lakota have passed through the generations is wasna. Wasna derives from "wa" meaning "anythingthing" and the "sna" meaning ground up. Non-Lakota people sometimes refer to it as pemmican. This dish consists of dried buffalo, dried berries, and fat or bone marrow. Early Lakotas would grind the ingredients together with a pounding stone. Wasna is a very good source of protein and the Lakota value this traditional recipe not only as food, but also as a healing instrument. Wasna is oftenseen as a sacred food and was often used in ceremonies and rituals. It also has less cholesterol, yet a mere four ounces provides more potien than a half a dozen of eggs. Wasna, because of the protein it contains, can raise a person's iron level within 15 minutes. Today, Lakota people believe their ancestors did not suffer from diabetes, heart disease, or cancer due to the healing power of wasna.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups shredded beef or buffalo jerky
  • 1 cup chopped tart chokecherries
  • 6 Tbsp beef tallow or vegatable shortening

Instructions:

Shred jerkey and berries in a food processor. Mix in the tallow or shortening and stir until well incorporated. Form mixture into patties and dry in a dehydrator or refrigerate and eat within 3 days.

Nutritional Information:

Calories per serving 83.5, total fat 5.3g, cholesterol 20mg, sodium 16mg, potassium 94.5mg, total carbohydrates 0.8g


Source: Great Plains Good Health and Wellness Program: "Tradition and Nutrition feed your DNA" gptchb.org