If you're lucky enough to have a bounty of saskatoons for the picking, whether in the wild or in your yard, you may want to preserve a few of those sweet berries to enjoy this winter. Read on for recipes and tips for canning saskatoons and for making a deliciouse peach-saskatoon preserve. (Skip to recipes.)
I have been living, breathing, eating saskatoons every which way since I've come back. I think it has been another form of therapy. Picking, cleaning and preserving 133 jars of those unique Northern berries kept my mind and hands so busy I could fall thankfully into bed each night and dream of sweet, purple-hued berries hovering just out of my grasp.
Whether you call them juneberries, serviceberries, pigeon berries, or saskatoons, trying to explain their flavour to anyone who's never tasted them is difficult and elusive. They're sweet, dense, rich, seedy, slightly blueberryish, more almondish, a bit apple-y, dusky and deep. Oh, I don't know . . . you'll just have to try them yourself, if you can get your hands on them.
We used to pick them in the wild as children - pails and pails full of them. Always with an accompanying thrill of slight danger as mom pointed out the seedy piles of purple-tinted bear poop or the large, flattened-grass, nesty areas where a berry-feasting bear had stopped to take a nap. Saskatoon picking has always been joined in my memory with summer heat, sticky juice-stained fingers, and the grand silence of the prairie sky.
Nothing says summer more.
Now I have my own bushes and don't have to fight the bears for the tasty berries anymore (just my husband and children! And dog - Pippa loves them, too.)
This year I played around with different ways to preserve that purple summer in jars - juice, jelly, syrup, canning them with lemon, preserving them with peaches, and variations of a chutney (which recipe I'm still working on, maybe it'll be perfected next saskatoon season).
More Delicious Saskatoon Recipes:
- Saskatoon Juice (And How to Easily Clean Your Saskatoon Berries)
- Saskatoon Roll or Saskatoon Cobbler (And How to Freeze Your Saskatoon Berries)
- Old Fashioned Saskatoon Pie
- Saskatoon Jelly
- Prairie Mess (Eton Mess with Saskatoons and Rhubarb)
- Gluten Free Saskatoon Scones
- Saskatoon Muffins
- Saskatoon Slump
- Saskatoon Ice Cream Made with Homemade Saskatoon Jelly
- Pork Chops with Saskatoon and Green Apple Chutney
- Saskatoon Pickle (A Unique & Delicious Berry Chutney)
Saskatoons aren't very acidic, so I find they work best with some added punch from a tangy flavour-booster. Wow, then they shine! I combined them with rhubarb or raspberries and made them into juice with my steam juicer. Refreshing, and with that deep purple colour, I figure they've got to be high in antioxidants. Bonus.
If you can't get saskatoons, this recipe might work with blueberries, though I imagine it would be a bit more liquidy since blueberries are much more juicy, so you may need to cook it a bit longer to reduce the juices to the right consistency. The orange flower water lends a subtle, complex flavour that I love, however if you can't find any, this preserve is delicious without it, too. Orange flower water and rose water are available at ethnic markets.
- 5 pounds (2.25 kg) saskatoon berries, picked over, rinsed and drained
- 12 peaches (about 5 pounds or 2.25 kg)
- juice of 2 lemons
- 1 cup (250ml) honey
- 2 teaspoon orange flower water (or rose water - they both taste great, just subtly different)
Dip the peaches in boiling water for 1 to 2 minutes, until the skins loosen. Put into a bowl of cold water to cool, then slip them out of their skins. Cut them into wedges, then slice each wedge into about 4 pieces.
Place the saskatoons, diced peaches and lemon juice into a large heavy-bottomed stock pot. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, then turn down the heat to low and add the honey. Simmer the fruit mixture, stirring often, about 15 to 30 minutes, until the desired thickness is reached. You want it to be saucy, not jammy, and the berries still relatively whole, although the peach chunks should be nicely softened and starting to break apart.
Ladle the hot mixture into hot, sterilized jars and seal with hot sterilized lids. (You may process them in a boiling water bath for added insurance against spoilage.) Leave jars on counter to cool.
Alternatively, you can let the mixture cool and ladle it into containers, then freeze it for future use.
Delicious served chilled as a fruit dessert, or over ice-cream, yogurt, pancakes, cheesecake, rice pudding . . . use your imagination.
* * * * *
For years, growing up, I ate canned saskatoons as a fruit dessert, but I always found the flavour a little bland. This year I experimented with adding lemon, and ba-da-bing, ba-da-boom! The missing link! They now have zing, and my kids can't get enough of them. (It is important to use organic lemons here, as you are using them peel and all, and you don't want to preserve all those toxic chemicals right into the jars.)
- saskatoons, picked over, rinsed and drained
- organic lemons, sliced
Make a simple syrup with the ratio of 1 cup honey to 4 cups water. Bring to a boil and keep hot, You will need about 1 to 1-½ cups syrup for each quart of berries. (Save any leftover syrup in the fridge and use it to sweeten summer drinks.)
Into each sterilized quart jar put 2 slices of lemon - lay 1 slice on the bottom of the jar and cover with a handful of saskatoons, then tilt the jar slightly and lay another slice against the side of the jar and fill it to within ¾ inch of the top with berries, making sure the lemon stays against the outside of the jar. But don't overstress about this - it just looks prettier if you can see the lemon slice from the outside of the jar. If using pints, you only need 1 slice of lemon per jar - put it against the outside of the jar.
Pour over the hot honey syrup to within ½ inch of the top of the jars. Close the jars and process in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes (15 minutes for pints).
(Don't tell anyone the lemon slice is the best part, or you'll have to fight them for it!)
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How to Clean Your Saskatoon Berries
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so good seeing you today, that's one thing Tanis misses from 100 Mile, we had a saskatoon bush in the yard and they would pick and I would make saskatoon pancakes, we never had enough for me to preserve.
Love the blog! how do I become a follower? will certainly keep reading and commenting, but would love to become a follower!
thanks so much just finished 14 pints of saskatoons for my Arizona Aunt. They were hard picking this year here at Monte Lake.
What a lucky aunt! I'm sure she'll enjoy this touch of Canadian summer every time she opens a jar. Our berries are pretty sparse up here this year - will make for hard picking, too.
She is from Star City Sask so they will be a real treat I dried rhubard this spring and shipped her 10pounds dried. For the first time in many years she had rhubarb pie today
Wow - dried rhubarb! What a great idea (and that's a lotta rhubarb!)
If you have kids who love sour candies or adults just toss with a little sugar and dry for awesome taste.
Have you made jelly with your saskatoon rhubarb juice? I'd like to try some but would love to hear if someone else has tried it. Thanks
Hi Susan - yes, I have. I just use the saskatoon jelly recipe from the Bernardin Canning site:
http://www.bernardin.ca/pages/recipe_page/51.php?pid=142 using my own saskatoon rhubarb juice instead of the saskatoons and water in the recipe and it turns out great. I just measure out 3 and 1/2 cups of my juice and then proceed with the recipe. Good luck with yours - it's such a wonderful way to preserve some of that summer sunshine, isn't it. (And I think we're so lucky to have access to wonderful saskatoon berries!)
hi I am a first timer canner, for canning saskatoons do you need to boil them first for your recipe
Hi Bev, No, you can just put the berries raw into the jars with the lemon slices and cover them with the syrup (either hot or cold). The berries will get cooked when you process the jars in the boiling water bath (start timing once the water comes to a full boil). Good luck and have fun - it's much easier than most people think!
Have you ever tried making bbq sauce with saskatoons. I tasted a bbq sauce that was made with saskatoons. Just wondering if you had a recipe?
Unfortunately I don't, but it sounds very intriguing - I will have to experiment next year when the crop is ripe again.
I have a question. I'm sorry if I didn't see it but how long do they last once canned? Great site!
Thanks, Vanessa! If you look up any canning sites or food regulation sites, they always say that canned goods are recommended to be eaten within one year for optimum flavour and quality. However most of them say that as long as the food has been properly canned it may last longer than that, though you may find some decline in nutrient value. We use canned fruit that is several years old and it is absolutely fine. I just always make sure that the jar is still completely sealed. If the seal has 'popped' I always throw the contents out without tasting it, but that rarely happens. Thanks for stopping by, and happy canning 🙂