Saskatoon Juice – and How to Easily Clean Your Saskatoon Berries

It’s easy to make up a batch of tasty saskatoon juice from those unique saskatoon berries. Also – my mom’s handy dandy way to easily clean saskatoons!

saskatoon juice, and how to clean your saskatoons

I’m at the tail end of our saskatoon picking – with purple fingers and purple lips most days. The crop has been wonderful, but now we’re getting down to the sweet, very ripe, sometimes shriveled berries that are still full of flavour but not so juicy anymore.

picking berries for saskatoon juice, and how to clean saskatoon berries

Andreas, pulling down a loaded branch to get at the berries

It’s time to make juice.

The weather is hot and after a few hours of picking, it’s so refreshing to guzzle a glass of cool saskatoon juice.

If I’m lucky, I rope the men in the family into doing a spot of picking for me. . .

picking a pail of berries for saskatoon juice and how to clean saskatoon berries

Raymond likes to thread his belt through the bucket handle, leaving both hands free for picking – smart guy

We’ve picked a few . . .

berries for saskatoon juice and how to clean saskatoon berries

so it’s time to stop for a cool drink.

saskatoon juice and how to clean saskatoon berries

Luckily I cleaned some of yesterday’s berries and made a batch of saskatoon juice which is chilling in the fridge.

Here’s the handy dandy way my mom taught me to clean saskatoon berries (or any other berries you’ve picked.)

How to Clean Saskatoon Berries

Saskatoons can be full of leafy bits, twigs, shriveled berries and unwanted little critters that hitched a ride into the pail.

To clean my berries I do a two-step process: first I pick them over, then I wash them.

To pick them over, I set up a picking station like this.

saskatoon juice and how to clean saskatoon berries

see, that old phone book comes in handy

At the table, I take a large cookie sheet or tray, and lay it with the short end facing me. I then prop the far end up on a book so it’s elevated one or two inches. The slant should be just enough that the berries don’t tumble down the pan by themselves, but roll easily when nudged with your fingers. I have a small bowl on my right side for the duds, and a large bowl ready to hold the cleaned berries.

I carefully pour two or three large handfuls of saskatoons onto the high end of the cookie sheet, then with both hands gently roll some of the berries down toward me.

saskatoon juice and how to clean saskatoon berries

Raymond is the hand model here for me – it’s good practice for him to clean a few berries, too

As they roll down the cookie sheet, I pick out all the duds, gimpy berries, crud, and critters and put them into the dud-bowl (I get little stinkbugs that like to come along for the ride, and sometimes ants, etc.). It’s easy to see what I’m doing, and I don’t miss any berries with this system. (My mom is so smart.)

I then dump the cleaned berries into the big bowl and pour another load of berries onto the pan. This process actually goes quickly, and I can get through a pail of berries in quite a short time.

When I’ve cleaned a large bowlful, I fill the kitchen sink with cold water, and pour the cleaned berries into it. I swirl them around with my hand a few times to clean them, then wait a few seconds for the water to stop moving. Then, either with my hands or a strainer, I fish out all the berries floating on the top of the water and place them into a colander to drain.

saskatoon juice and how to clean saskatoon berriesThe berries that float at the top are usually the lighter, drier berries that aren’t so great for freezing. The heavier, juicy ones sink to the bottom of the water. I fish out the heavy ones and place those into another colander to drain.

saskatoon juice and how to clean saskatoon berries
Once they’ve drained for an hour or so, I place them into heavy zip-top bags and label them, then freeze them to use in desserts and smoothies.

The lighter berries that I’ve fished from the top of the water are great for making juice, since they are full of concentrated flavour, even if they are a little drier or more shriveled. (Think of them as saskatoon raisins.)

Below is the recipe for making juice, but feel free to use it just as a guideline – I often don’t even measure the berries, just fill a pot about ¾ full of berries, then add water to barely cover them, cook, drain, add lemon juice and sweetener to taste, and dilute with water to serve. This method works with all berries.

saskatoon juice and how to clean saskatoon berries

How to Make Saskatoon Juice

  • 4 cups (1 litre, about 600grams) cleaned saskatoon berries
  • 2 cups (500ml) water
  • juice of half a lemon
  • honey to taste (about 3 tablespoons) or other sweetener of choice

If I’m making big batches of juice to can, or make saskatoon jelly, I use my three part steam juicer (on the left) but if I just want to make a small batch of juice for drinking, I cook the berries in water in a saucepan (on the right).

saskatoon juice and how to clean saskatoon berriessaskatoon juice and how to clean saskatoon berries

Place the saskatoons and water into a saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and cover the saucepan. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Pour into a colander set over a bowl to catch the juice, and let drain until cooled to lukewarm and no more juice drips out – an hour or more.

saskatoon juice and how to clean saskatoon berries

Add the lemon juice and honey or other sweetener, and whisk until the honey is dissolved. Remember that the juice will be diluted to serve, so it will taste sweeter as a concentrate.

You should have about 3 cups of saskatoon juice concentrate (it depends on how juicy your berries are).

To serve, mix 1 part saskatoon juice with 2 to 3 parts water or club soda, to taste. You can mix it up in a pitcher or refrigerate the concentrate and mix up individual glasses as you need them. Will keep for one week in the fridge.

*Use club soda and add a shot of vodka for a fun summer cocktail.

saskatoon juice and how to clean saskatoon berries
Guten Appetit!

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You might also like:

Saskatoon Rolls or Cobbler and How to Freeze Saskatoons

Saskatoon Preserves and How to Can Saskatoons

Saskatoon Ice Cream

Pork Chops with Saskatoon and Green Apple Chutney

Saskatoon Slump

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12 Responses to Saskatoon Juice – and How to Easily Clean Your Saskatoon Berries

  1. Roswitha says:

    Hi, Margaret
    Just read your delicious Saskatoon Recipes,I’m getting hungry.
    Thank you for your Passion, and to share it with us.

    • Margaret says:

      Aw, thank you so much, Roswitha. It makes my day to know you visit my blog and read it. I appreciate that so much, since I love doing it. You’ve made my day. Lots of love to you and wishes for a great rest-of-the-summer.

  2. Elsa says:

    The Saskatoon juice looks refreshing. I will make a batch with the berries Heiner picked.
    Have to try it with Club Soda and Vodka.
    Pictures are wonderful as always Margaret.

    • Margaret says:

      Thanks so much, Elsa! It’s a great way to use up all those saskatoons left over after you’ve filled the freezer with enough bags for pies and desserts. And the cocktail is a delicious reward after a long, hot day of picking berries! (Or a bribe to get Heiner to pick more berries!)
      Thanks for your lovely comment!

  3. Vivian says:

    Great post, Margaret. I’m curious about the steam juicer. I’ve never seen one before. How does it work? I imagine it must be berries on the top, water boiling on the bottom but how do you get juice out of the middle part and still allow the steam to pass through?

    • Margaret says:

      Thanks, Vivian. Yes, you’re right – the berries are in the top in a steamer basket with holes, and the middle part has a hole in an inverted cone – it looks kind of like an angel food cake pan. The steam rises through the cone, heats the berries and the juice drips into the area around the cone, so that it can be drawn out through the rubber tube. It’s quite an ingenious system, and was made in Finland. I purchased it through Lee Valley a number of years ago.

      • Vivian says:

        Thanks for your response. I “get it” now. I think it would be dandy for all kinds of berries and make chokcherry jelly so much easier. Are your saskatoons natural or nursery-bought? I have some bushes and trees here but they don’t seem at all as vigourous as yours!

        • Margaret says:

          Yes, they’re nursery-bought. We ordered them from The Saskatoon Farm in southern Alberta, but I cannot remember which variety they are. The bushes get REALLY tall, which does make it harder to pick them. They produce well most of the time, though they do like to take a little rest every so often and some years we only get a few berries. 🙂

  4. Stephanie says:

    Margaret, I can attest that your Saskatoon berries are absolutely wonderful — thank you again for sharing them with me. I cleaned them using your method and it was genius — and so much faster than anything I would have thought of!

    I’ve already made a Saskatoon-apricot crisp, a French Saskatoon tart, and Saskatoon-currant jelly . . . I’m looking forward to this juice next!

    • Margaret says:

      You are very welcome, Stephanie. It was such a pleasure picking with you and chatting. And wow, I am impressed! Those desserts sound fabulous – I think you’ve raised the humble saskatoon berry to new heights!

  5. Cheryl says:

    Your Sakatoon bushes that you received from Saskatoon Farms are most likely Northline and are a bush not a tree. They can be kept trimmed at a level that is easily reached. I have the same bushes and they are quite prolific most every year; this year I have huge juicy berries much like blueberries…yummy!

    • Margaret says:

      Thanks, Cheryl. Glad to know what variety they are. I couldn’t remember. We have trimmed them in the past, but they’ve gotten out of hand and need a trim again. It’s just a job that seems to be at the bottom of the list in the spring and then suddenly it’s too late for that year. Hopefully we can get to it next year. I love saskatoons!

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