Maggie Wilson Author

Historical Non-Fiction in Northern Ontario

Serviceberries are Ready!

The serviceberries are ready! Know how I know? Bear poop. Red, gritty bear poop all along the trails. Sure enough, as we walked along Nipissing Road toward home, I found a bush with burgundy berries. It was a good ‘un. More sweet than sour, not what I’d call juicy, but a perfectly respectable fruit. The seeds tend to get stuck in your teeth, but not as bad as raspberry seeds, for example. It seems that no two bushes are alike, flavour-wise. Some fruit is dry and tasteless, others bear succulent berries full of sugary tang. The assorted varieties make for an extended season.

The scientific name for this plant is Amelanchier (/æməˈlænʃɪər/ am-ə-LAN-sheer) Cobalters sometimes refer to the fruit as sugarplums. Wikipedia has a long list of alternate names

  • shadbush, shadwood or shadblow
  • serviceberry or sarvisberry, or just sarvis,
  • juneberry,
  • saskatoon,
  • sugarplum or wild-plum
  • and chuckley pear

Judging by my Facebook feed from a year ago, this year’s harvest has been slightly delayed by the cool and the wet. Last year, “on this day” we harvested from an unusually tall bush out by the pond. I took a stab at making serviceberry jelly, but didn’t have quite enough juice. Reiner gave the fruit a very thorough mash, which meant more pulp than what was desirable. I boiled the stink out of the liquid  and ended up with what I call Serviceberry Jammy. Vivian called it Serviceberry Butter. No matter the name, it is tasty and a gorgeous colour.

Unfortunately, the lumberjack in our household felled a poplar tree smack dab on top of the serviceberry tree out front. I guess we’ll find out if the wood makes for good woodstove fuel next winter.

***   ***   ***

Inspired by the Daily Prompt: grit

Categories: Blog Blog Blog

Tags: , , , ,

47 replies

  1. Ya learn something every day. I’ve never heard of serviceberries — or any of the other names for them. Nor have I ever seen them at a grocery store, or even at the market. I wonder why …

    Liked by 2 people

    • The plant is promoted as an ornamental, too – since it grows in fairly rocky and dry conditions, it makes for a good urban sidewalk planting. It attracts birds and has colourful fall display, too.

      You make a good point about them not being commercially available – I suppose the variable flavours/quality is an undesirable attribute?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. My Dad had at least one serviceberry tree in our backyard (don’t know whether it is still there), and he made serviceberry muffins a long time ago.

    I didn’t particularly like it back then (pre-2007), but my tastes have gotten a lot more versatile in the last ten years.

    Liked by 1 person

    • In case you get inspired to try again:

      Serviceberry Muffins
      1½ cups all-purpose flour ½ cup sugar
      2 teaspoons baking powder ½ teaspoon salt
      1 egg ½ cup milk
      ¼ cup vegetable oil ¾ cup serviceberries
      Lightly oil muffin pans. In a bowl, measure and mix together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, beat egg; add milk and oil. Pour liquid ingredients into dry ingredients. Mix dry ingredients until just moistened, about 15 mixing strokes; batter should be lumpy. Fold in serviceberries. Fill muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake at 400°F for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Immediately remove muffins from pans and cool on a wire rack.
      Yield: 12 muffins

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It seems that serviceberries (a name my spellcheck keeps wanting to change to “refrigerators”) got the short end of the stick name-wise. It certainly isn’t very compelling. Maybe if they had a more luscious name they would do better commercially. Your jammy looks delicious!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. We had an amelanchior for years but had to cut down two years ago because of disease. The robins would fly in large packs and de-berry the tree in a day. I loved to watch them. Red poop all over the place but it was worth it. The robins never forgave us.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. That looks like a pretty tall berry bush that Reiner is picking from. I don’t think I’ve ever had to use a step stool to pick berries.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Red, gritty bear poop yields something that looks really yummy?

    Am I the only one grateful you didN’T snap a photo of that 😀

    Put me firmly in the same category as everyone else who hasn’t heard of this beautiful red bear treat/berry/fruit.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I never thought to harvest the berries from the Serviceberry shrubs/trees around here. They seem too small! But your jelly looks beautiful!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Some berries I’ve encountered are hardly more than a pit covered by a tiny layer of flesh. It takes far more than I’m willing to pick to make enough juice for jelly. So, this year, I’ll leave ’em for the boids. 🙂


  8. Oh, “Chuckley pear,” hands down!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This one is news to me too. Even the pictures don’t ring any bells, but between all the squirrels and raccoons in this area, I’m just as happy not to have red poop all over the place 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I’ve never heard of this fruit. The color of your jam [or butter] makes me think of garnets and rubies. So pretty. Would eat happily on toast.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. These fruits are news to me , too . The muffins would be good , I’m sure .

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Oh my, this is new to me. Gorgeous color!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Delicious colour, Maggie. Well done, those bottles look terrific. Glad to hear of a new berry!!


  14. Bear poop on Nipissing Road!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Starting a blog post with berry-laden bear poo — and ending with a breakfast topping made from the very same berries? BOLD CHOICE!

    I heartily approve. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  16. mmmm Reminds me of many a delicious snack plucked from the side of the Trail during my hikes. (Just to be clear, I was referring to the sarvisberries rather than the bear poop ;))


  17. Wow! I never heard of them before. We always had dewberrie but these look interesting and your description has my mouth watering.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. When I grew up that was all I knew of blackberries. It was a long time before I had a true blackberry.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I’m so glad I finally got to read this.
    Okay, so, the first year we moved into this house, I noticed a new-to-me sorta tree across the street. I examined it, hunted it in my books, read more online — Canadian Serviceberry. I told my mother. My mother had never heard of such a thing. She made me take pictures of it to send to her.
    It blooms earliest of all in my neighborhood. It blooms when there’s still snow on the ground here. Lovely white flowers as above, seem to decorate the bare limbs of the tree rather than hang from it. They all fall off before the tulip trees even bloom.
    This tree does not fruit. At least, not yet. Maybe too young? Maybe too warm? But I admire it. It’s beautiful when it blooms.
    Your serviceberry jammy looks amazing! Such incredible color!
    I’m going to keep a closer eye on this tree across the street. The renters come and go, but the tree stays on, growing 🙂


    • Well, then, I’m glad that I posted the story! It is a cold tolerant plant, and perhaps it is too warm your way? Reiner and I were just talking about that yesterday – trees can be stunted by the cold, but are any stunted by the heat?


Your thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s