I recently read an article in a 1924 issue of the Farmer’s Wife magazine on using wild fruits. At first glance, I didn’t think I had access to any of the wild fruits mentioned, like red haws, pin cherries, and chokecherries. But then I had a chance conversation with a fellow camper over the Memorial Day weekend…
I learned from the chat with my campground neighbor that Saskatoon berries are also known as Juneberries and Serviceberries. I’ve had a couple of Saskatoon berry bushes for years. The bushes have been slow to take off, but I finally got my first harvest last year. I picked all the berries and put them into the freezer, where they have remained because I had no idea what to do with them. Our conversation reminded me that the article included a couple of recipes for Juneberries.
So, I had an opportunity to try out one of the recipes. I didn’t have enough berries for a full recipe, so I just followed the ratio in the recipe of 3 parts berries to 1 part rhubarb.
I began to drain the fruit as directed, but then decided that I prefer jam instead of jelly, so I strained it through my jam cone instead. I really like the idea of jam that doesn’t use store-bought pectin but I struggle with the jelly test on the back of a spoon. I’m always afraid of overcooking it so my jam often winds up more like an ice cream topping, which isn’t all bad, but a little drippy for toast.
I concentrated on counting drips–”1, 2, 3….13, 14, 15, drip” then “1, 2, 3….20, 21, 22, drip” over and over, gradually working my way closer to 60. I found myself counting faster and faster to reach my goal before it dripped. Even while pouring it into the jars, I knew it was thicker than I’d wanted. I think my problem was that by the time I counted all the way up to 60, the jam had cooked nearly a minute longer.
In spite of the thickness, the taste is absolutely delicious, like blueberry with a little tang. All in all, I consider my first attempt at Juneberry jam a success. I’m anxious for this summer’s crop to ripen, so I can make another batch.
Have you ever tried Juneberries? (or Saskatoon berries? or Serviceberries?)