‘Saskatun berry‘- what is the hype all about? Is this the next superfood that will cause a food war between the USA and Canada?
Saskatun berry or Amelanchier alnifolia are scientifically proven to have a close connection with the apple family even though they resemble blueberries to a large extent. With a nutty flavor, the berries taste sweet too.
A Little about Saskatun Berry
Cree word “misâskwatômina” gave birth to Saskatun berry, which is native to North America. Though you can avail of the berries throughout the year, the best time to get them fresh is from June to early July. Though found abundantly in the Great White North, saskatun berries have made their appearances in some parts of the United States too!
American market strategists and entrepreneurs hate the name Saskatun Berry as it proves the Canadian dominance over the fruit. They try to cash out the product in their supermarket and departmental stores by ‘June Berry.’ They give the excuse that the aboriginal name of the berry will not be suitable for American markets.
This deciduous shrub or small tree is similar to an apple and is often called its cousin! The growing conditions are vast and can grow at sea level as well as on mountain peaks too.
Found mainly in Canada, Alaska, and Maine, these berries are known by various names. They are known as Juneberries in America, prairie berries, bear fruits, serviceberries, amd even pigeonberries!
Saskatun Berry: History
Saskatun berry was immensely popular among the First Nations People of Canada. They treated the berry as a survival kit, which helped them survive the long, harsh cold months of Canada. This also helped them revive their energy.
Sharing the name of the city of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, these berries had gained massive respect from the people as these were present even before any urbanization took place. The ancient people dried these berries and consumed them later. They were kept together with buffalo tallow and named as ‘pemmican.’
Bonus fact: Bears tend to love saskatun berries, and many times people have seen bears appearing in their backyards to pick out the berries! As a result of this, the saskatun berry is also known as bear fruit!
Saskatun Berry: Health benefits
The antioxidant level in saskatoon berry is limitless. It is more than a blueberry and possibly more than a goji berry or even an acai. The anthocyanins in saskatoon are the phytonutrients present in a vast amount that make it a king in the berry world.
Calcium, Magnesium, fiber, and manganese are found in vast portions in a saskatoon. Berries like blueberries, strawberries, and goji berries lose their proteins and antioxidants when they are frozen. But, not in the case of saskatun berries- they retain all their nutrients and proteins even when frozen!
But if these saskatoon berries grow in your backyard and want to preserve them for many months, you should pick out the berries, soak them in apple cider vinegar for about half an hour before you dry them and freeze them for preservation purposes!
What are the body health benefits of Saskatoon berries?
- Heart diseases can be prevented to a large extent by consuming these wild berries. They lower the low-density lipoprotein, also known as bad cholesterol level, and keeps your heart active and going strong!
- Urinary tract infections can also be stopped on consumption.
- Arthritis and Dementia can be prevented as saskatoons lower chronic inflammation, which is a leading cause of such diseases. Moreover, saskatun berry can also act as an anti-inflammatory medicine as it reduces inflammation too.
- It also keeps insulin and blood sugar levels regular.
Saskatun Berry: Some Appetizing Recipes
If you are a native of Canada, then you might be familiar with spreading some lip-smacking saskatoon berry jam over your crispy toasts and eating it before school every day. Moreover, summers and saskatun berries come hand in hand.
Available in both locals gardens and farmer’s markets, these wild juneberries provide a flavorful sweet, nutty taste, and there are many scrumptious ways to savor the taste of these juicy prairie berries!
1. The Saskatoon Berry-Butter Tart
There are always some forms of tarts (sweet or savory) in any Saskatchewan festivities. Most of them have a sort of brown sugar-quiche taste. The most iconic among these are the Saskatoon Berry-Butter Tarts. Many renditions of this recipe are found over the internet.
“The Best of Bridge” cookbook provides the best version, and the one we have here is the vegan, gluten-free version. We have to thank Saskatchewan, the coldest Canadian province, for blessing us with the Saskatun berry.
Ingredients (For berry filling)
- 4 cups Saskatoon berries
- 3 tablespoon Tapioca Starch
- 1/4 cup water
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
Making the butter tart layer
- Chia seeds- 2 tablespoons
- Coconut oil- 3 tablespoons
- Vanilla extract
- Coconut sugar
- Raisins (must be seedless)
Preparing the Saskatoon berries
Keep in mind that you need to prepare a saskatun berry sauce for the tart. Take the saskatun berry, tapioca starch, and granulated sugar together in a large cereal bowl. Put the bowl on a low heat and stir the mixture for around ten minutes.
Do keep in mind that the mixture should be smooth and not grainy. When the sauce reduces in amount and thickens, take the bowl out and cool it for a couple of minutes.
Making the Butter tart filling
- Keep in mind that you are using the chia seeds as a substitute for egg, so whisk it well with 3-4 spoons of water, so it gives off that ‘eggy’ texture.
- Take a saucepan and heat the coconut oil in it. Mix the chia seed ‘eggy’ mixture, vanilla extracts, raisins, and sugar and whisk them slowly and adequately until they become a melty mixture.
- Do not stop stirring and let the mixture boil for another three minutes. This is an essential step as the chia seed texture is different from that of a regular egg, and if you do not keep stirring, it will get stuck to the bottom of the saucepan or, even worse, might be burned!
If you are someone who struggles with making tart dough or is not comfortable with the dough-making process, then I’d highly suggest you take a look at this article right here!
Even if you know the recipe, please make you that you use gluten-free all-purpose flour as this is a vegan, gluten-free recipe. Otherwise, let’s get into the process of putting the Saskatun Berry Butter Tart together!
- The initial and most essential step is preheating the oven at 375°F. If you own tart sheets, then it is ideal for this recipe. Even if you don’t, there is no need to worry as you can use a cookie tray to roll out the dough too!
- Take a tablespoon of the butter tart filling and place it in the tart shells. If you are using a cookie sheet, then put the filling in a circular shape over the plate.
- Don’t be shy while giving the sauce, and please pour a generous amount.
- A 20 minutes baking time is mandatory. Feel the golden crispy, buttery tarts, and when you bite into them, you will feel the gooey sweet saskatoon berry filling! Bon appetite!
2. The Saskatoon Berry Pie
Ingredients: (For the pastry)
- 1.25 lbs flour (all-purpose)
- A quarter cup of brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- A pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon vinegar
- 3/4 cup of milk
- 1 pound of cold lard
- 1 egg
- Saskatoon berries- 4 cups
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- Initially, the flour, brown sugar, salt, and baking powder should be taken in a large bowl, and all mixed well. Keep on adding the lard and mixing it slowly with the rest.
- Take the beaten egg, milk, and vinegar in another bowl and keep on whisking till the mixture looks fluffy enough. Now mix the dry and wet ingredients and whisk them well but be careful as you shouldn’t over-mix it!
- Take the required amount of mixture on a buttered surface and roll it out into two discs. Now be careful as the width of these discs should not be more than .25 inches. Set this aside and refrigerate for an hour or so.
- Take the saskatoon berries, cornstarch, and granulated sugar into a bowl and mix them well.
- Take out the disk from the refrigerator and place the berry filling on top of one of the discs. Even the filling out and cover it with the other disc.
- Don’t forget to cut out some vents, so it gets some air, and the inside is cooked correctly too!
Bake it in two halves. The first one should be for 10 minutes at 410°F and after reducing the heat to 250°F, bake for another 40 minutes till the pie looks crispy golden.
Have you ever come across these Canadian berries? Let us know your thoughts on these prairie berries! Also, let us know if you try these recipes!