By Vicky Babcock
Saska—what? If you’ve never heard of the Saskatoon berry you’re in good company. Few of us have. Yet the berry—also known as the Juneberry or Serviceberry—is native to North America and has been harvested by Native Americans and, later, settlers for hundreds of years. Similar in appearance to the blueberry, Saskatoons are more closely related to the apple tree; both belong to the rose family. The berry was prized for its nutritional value as well as it heartiness—Saskatoons are resistant to low temperatures and drought and they grow in a wide range of soil types. The berries are sweet and tasty, but try to pin down the flavor and you get, “nutty”, “somewhere between a blueberry and a cherry”, “a hint of apple”. The fact is, each berry packs its own unique mix of flavors and berries from the same plant may not taste exactly the same. One person even described the taste as, “similar to a peach,” a unique opinion.
Saskatoons are high in antioxidants and an excellent source of manganese, magnesium, iron, calcium, potassium, copper and carotene. Per pound higher in vitamin C, potassium and iron than most other berries, Saskatoons should easily qualify as a super fruit.
Due to recent cultivation of the bushes in Northern Michigan, the berry is starting to find its way into area farmers’ markets and groceries. But the berries’ demand continues to exceed supply, even in Canada where it’s been cultivated for about thirty years.
Saskatoons, or Juneberries played an important role in survival for victims of drought and depression in the 1930’s. For more on the berries or to purchase the bushes, check out Saskatoon Michigan online.
Fresh Berry Cups
Shortbread cookies (about 6-8)
2 cups fresh berries
Crumble cookies and divide between 6 to 8 ramekins. Divide berries equally between ramekins.
2 T. cornstarch
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 cups fresh berries
Bring to a boil water, sugar and cornstarch—stir in 1 sm. box blueberry Jello™ . Gently stir in 2 cups fresh berries and pour hot filling over the top of each ramekin. Cool. Top with Cool Whip™ or other whipped topping.
Fresh Market is brought to you by Solon Market located at 15185 Algoma Avenue. For more information call 616-696-1718. Like us on facebook for updates.