First off, you might be wondering what a “Saskatoon” is. If you look at the picture, you’ll notice they look similar to blueberries. They are small dark purple berries, picked the same way blueberries are, but they have a different taste. I’ve read someone describing them as having more of an apple flavour – I can’t say I agree with that, but they do taste different than blueberries. After having both blueberries and saskatoons at home at the same time, my husband and I both agreed – we actually prefer saskatoon berries over blueberries. Although most saskatoons are available at u-pick locations now, these ones I was lucky enough to pick at my friend’s place, they have them growing wildly in the bushes surrounding their house. I’m thankful she was willing to share some of her bounty, I hadn’t had saskatoon berries in a few years. On a side note – saskatoon berries also go by another name, serviceberries or Juneberries, and are actually not berries, but a pome. They are related to the rose family, making them more like an apple than a blueberry. How do I know that? My copy of Prairie Fruit Cookbook by Getty Stewart is full of great information on saskatoon berries, as well as many other prairie fruits.
Earlier this year I was gifted a copy of Prairie Fruit Cookbook: The Essential Guide for Picking, Preserving and Preparing Fruit, and although I paged through it during the winter months, it’s only in May that I took a closer look at it. In Manitoba, we may have a short growing season, but a lot can happen in those few months. Sometimes, there is so much bounty at once, you run out of ideas on what to do with it. That’s where this book comes in handy – it has general information on a variety of different fruits, plus information on how to harvest, store, and preserve the fruit, with a wide variety of recipes for each fruit. If you have an apple tree or rhubarb plant growing on your yard, and you just don’t know what to do with it, this book will have the answers.
Why did Getty write this book? Because she wants us to “celebrate our backyard bounty and savour its goodness, picked fresh or preserved for later.” She is the founding member of Fruit Share Manitoba, “a volunteer-led organization dedicated to picking, sharing and enjoying fresh fruit growing in backyards throughout Manitoba,” according their website. The organization, now in its fourth year, works together with land owners to make sure no fruit goes to waste. Instead of the fruit going to waste, the land owner contacts Fruit Share – which now runs in Winnipeg, Brandon, and Steinbach – and Fruit Share will arrange for volunteers to come pick the fruit, giving 1/3 to the land owner, 1/3 to a local charity, with the pickers keeping the remaining fruit. In 2012 Fruit Share Manitoba picked a whopping 10, 108 pounds of fruit that would have otherwise gone to waste. I think that’s absolutely amazing!
So, when it came to finding a recipe to use my picked saskatoon berries, I turned to the Prairie Fruit Cookbook for the answers. I was not disappointed. The pie didn’t stand a chance in this house, it never made it 24 hours. If I’d allowed the kids to eat it for breakfast, it wouldn’t have even made it that long.
Note: Just don’t look too closely at my crust – I was experimenting. The crust recipe given in the recipe works perfectly though, so use that one.
- Dough for Double Pie Crust
- 4 cups fresh or frozen saskatoon berries
- 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup rice flour (white or brown)
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
- Roll out half of the pastry dough and form it to fit the bottom of a 9-inch pie plate. Trim edges.
- Mix saskatoons (if they are frozen, thaw until the fruit separates), lemon juice, almond extract, sugar, and rice flour together in a large bowl. Pour mixture into prepared pie plate.
- Roll out second half of pastry dough, and place over the top of the pie, tucking excess dough under the bottom crust and crimp edges.
- Cut a few slits in the top crust to allow steam to escape.
- Place on the lowest rack in your oven and bake for 15 minutes at 425 degrees F. Lower the temperature to 350 degrees F and bake for an additional 35 minutes. If you are using frozen saskatoons, you will need an additional 15-25 minutes baking time. If your crust starts to brown too much, cover the edges with aluminum foil.
- Remove from oven and let cool for 2 hours before slicing, this will allow the filling to set.
If you live in Brandon, Winnipeg, or Steinbach and have fruit that you will not be harvesting, please sign up to arrange to have volunteers pick the fruit. It is better than the fruit going to waste & spoiling in the yard or filling the landfill.
If you have an abundance of fruit, and aren’t sure what to do with it, consider buying Prairie Fruit Cookbook. It contains over 150 recipes to help you make use of your bounty of apples, grapes, pears, plums, apricots, prairie cherries, raspberries, rhubarb, strawberries, and of course, saskatoons. Definitely a valuable resource.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book, with no obligation to share or blog about it. I decided to do that because I think the book is fantastic, and I hope you can benefit from it the way I have.