Archive for July, 2021

A Handful of Saskatoon Berries

Author: Helga Sombrofsky

I picked a few wild saskatoon berries on my walk. I wandered for over an hour and came home with about a cupful in total.

Saskatoons are native plants of North America and are known by many different names including prairie berry, serviceberry, shadbush, juneberry and, in past centuries, pigeon berry.

In the 1970s farmers began to grow saskatoon berries commercially and I was surprised the first time I saw saskatoon jelly in the jam section at the grocery store. There was some drama when Canadian producers began selling their products in Europe. Headlines stated: Saskatoons Banned in Europe as a Novel Food . Apparently the EU regulators needed to officially prove that these berries were safe for human consumption before the products could be legally sold in Europe.

Saskatoon berries are high in anti-oxidants which have some action in preventing, aging, cancer and heart disease. The Saskatoon Berry Institute has a detailed nutritional breakdown. The berries were traditionally used to make pemmican which was an important survival food for both aboriginal people in North America and early settlers. This dried fruit product enabled them to have the nutrition of berries available throughout the winter.

I didn’t have enough berries for a pie, so I decided to use them for a coffee cake. I made a plain coffee cake and added the saskatoons as a topping.

Saskatoon Coffee Cake

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 cup saskatoon berries (or more)

Cream butter. Add 1 cup sugar, gradually, creaming well. Add eggs one at a time, beating until light after each addition. Stir in vanilla. Stir baking soda into sour cream. Sift together flour, salt and baking powder. Add sour cream and flour mixtures alternately to the creamed mixture, beating well. Spoon batter into an 8-inch square pan. Mix brown sugar with saskatoon berries and spread on top. Bake at 350° F for 45 minutes.