Maybe it is from growing up on the prairies that makes me have a particularly soft spot for saskatoon berries. There is nothing quite like them.
They could easily be the next trendy super food as they are packed with nutrients and vitamins that are far superior to some of the similar foods like blueberries. They contain more calories, protein, carbohydrates, fiber, vitamin C, iron and potassium than their counterparts which explains why they are historically a key ingredient. Harvested in the fall by the Native North American people who used it in part when making pemmican. The addition of the berries would add the much needed nutrition during the harsh winters when food resources were more limited.
One of the reasons I love them is that they mark the early start of the harvest season as they are usually ripened in late June or July. This does usually mean I am canning in the hot summer weather, but the saskatoon berries are worth it especially if you are able to fill your buckets with wild ones. They also make for a wonderful summer pie that is excitedly eaten up without any remorse.
This year was a particularly great one for the berries as they were plump, juicy and close to double the regular size. The branches were loaded down with the hanging fruit and it didn’t take long to fill the buckets when you could grab handfuls at a time. A visit to my parents farm where the saskatoon bushes on the edge of the yard yielded 40 cups of dark berries. I would had gotten more but the hard rain fall had us retreating to the house and we did had to head back to our home in the city. Plus my Hubby had pulled me out of the thick of the bushes saying “I think you have enough now”. Never. It was sad leaving the rest there but my niece and nephew were staying with my parents and they were able to pick more by the end of their visit. They even made their first saskatoon pie! So proud of them.
With a few pies already prepared it was time to start planning some saskatoon jam that would be preserved for the fall and winter season. Packed full of goodness and sealed waiting to be opened on a dreary cold day. The jam can be used during breakfast, part of a cheese appetizer or even added as a glaze to poultry, pork or wild game. The saskatoons make a complimentary accompaniment to bison, elk or venison.
In the custom version of this recipe I added some fresh basil to the jam which can be enjoyed during spring and summer as it gives a lighter taste. Add the chopped basil to the jam just prior to pouring in the prepared jars.
You may also like to try a spiced version for fall with the addition of cinnamon, nutmeg, mace and or allspice during the initial step when the berries are first added.
Please share your saskatoon berry picking or cooking adventures in the comments section below.
Custom Saskatoon Berry Jam
- 4 cups Saskatoon berries crushed
- 1 lemon juice and zest
- 1 package of powder pectin
- 1/2 tsp butter
- 4 cups of sugar
- Combine the crushed saskatoons, lemon zest and juice, pectin and butter and stir. Bring to a rolling boil.
- Add all the sugar and bring back to a rolling bowl and stir until all sugar is dissolved.
- You can test the consistency of the jam by placing a small amount on a metal spoon that has been left to cool in the freezer.
- Place the jam in the clean hot sanitized jars, leaving approx 1/4 -1/2 inch from the top. Wipe the rim of the jars so they are free of any jam spills. Place the lids on the jars and tighten the rings on until finger tight.
- Place the jars in a boiling hot water bath for 10 minutes to process.
- Remove and let sit for 24hrs and until the lids are sealed.
Ensure that you include the lemon as the additional acid is required. The saskatoon berries do not have enough on their own.