Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Try Something New: Juneberries
Juneberries may be my favorite fruit. These are also one of the many things I forage for. Also known as serviceberries, shadbush, saskatoon or sarvisberries, these lovelies are on right now in Maryland and depending on your area and variety ripen between April and August. These berries look like a blueberry or miniature pomegranate with the "crowns" on the ends of the fruit. The crowns help you know they are safe to eat. No poisonous berries have crowns. But despite appearances, they actually are related to apples. Their edible seeds even look like tiny apple seeds.
Juneberries are an old-fashioned fruit. I asked my parents about them when I first discovered them, who passed me on to my grandparents. The older generation remembered these beauties fondly. They are naturally high in pectin and don't require any addition to make jam or preserves. And the flavor is something you cannot forget. Punchy and bright with a distinct almond note, there is no supermarket equal. If you have found these for sale somewhere you have found a rare gem. They used to be cultivated and distributed on a larger scale but have gotten lost somehow in the last half century. I feel so cheated, that I spent how many of years of my life waiting to discover my favorite fruit can't be bought at the store or market the way it once was. Shame. Now I am left wondering what ever am I supposed to do when I move away from my beloved bushes?
I don't think I can relocate the bushes, but I would love to plant my own. They would be worth it, but there are still drawbacks to juneberries that I haven't mentioned. They take forever to pick. That is mostly because you can't stop yourself from eating them. They are that good. I even pick them slightly under ripe just because I know that they birds will descend on them soon and something this good simply doesn't last. If you can hold out- they are amazing when they turn purple, but me, sometimes I can't hold out that long. These, are one of the Gods' finer fruit creations. So find them if you can, or if not maybe it is time to buy yourself a bush. You can guess what I will be hankering to do this time next year.