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,
- 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.
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