Archive for the ‘Saskatoons’ Category

Saskatoon Glean 2012


Long, long ago, in a former saskatoon u-pick that is now more lawn than bush, a friend and I harvested saskatoons by the 5 gal pail and I made wine. Not your usual cooler-esque cheery saskatoon wine, but a heavy, dense, rich, viscous wine, aged with american white oak. That was way back in 2009. That vintage is now 3 years old and I’m wagering is the type of wine that will rock in the 10+ year range. I hadn’t had the supply to make another vintage since – until now.

Over a year ago, I got in touch with a U-Pick grower who was on the Operation Fruit Rescue Edmonton grower list, but last year the ridiculously deep snow in the winter prior yielded a crop failure thanks to the moose eating the bushes to get through the winter. No 2011 vintage in the stars, trumped by nature. This year though, it was game on. Not only did we get the grower some fruit to sell via her share, and donate a pile to OFRE and a local charity, I came home with enough to make a 2012 vintage of saskatoon wine. No time for it now, so the berries will go into the freezer for the time being until my insane schedule lets off a bit.

Surprisingly, despite the wonderful opportunity to stock up for the winter in a very win-win-win-win situation for all, not as many OFRE volunteers were chomping at the bit to get on board as I thought. We were hardly at capacity for the 2 nights we were out. Still, we managed to glean roughly 350 lbs of fruit. Then we got an email from another Saskatoon U-Pick grower, offering another glean. Saskatoons anyone? I’m done.

Wild Saskatoons


I find saskatoons have an interesting reputation – there are those that are into them, and the rest hate them.

With the wild ones, I can see texture being an issue. Without some attention to triage, one risks chewing on an unpleasantly dry berry. Not ideal. They also, even when plump, have a bit of texture to them – although not enough to account for the hate on for them that some folks have.

But it also can’t be the flavour. It’s not as if they don’t have any – I have repeatedly noted how they’re far more intensely flavoured than any mutant-sized giant blueberry from a plastic clamshell that seem to have won public approval. Maybe it’s too much flavor then? Maybe it’s the almond-extract-esque complexity they carry? You’d think that would be a positive attribute: complexity. It must be the texture.

In the end, I’m going to let my fussy-pants daughters be the judge. They love them. I picked enough on this go to make a few pints of jam, and my 4 year old picked with me the whole time, filling her face rather than a bucket. She was full afterwards. My pickly little eaters enjoy them frozen as a snack, in their pancakes, in jams and syrups. And I guess I should be happy that not everyone digs them, otherwise they likely wouldn’t be there for me to forage for in our ravines and river valley. 

Fruit Blossoms


Red Sparkle Apple (the beginning of 2011 wine vintage)


Wild Strawberry

Red Currant

Strawberry - non-wild variety

Ps. This is my 600th post, wordpress tells me.



This is one underrated fruit. It has pretty blooms in the spring, vibrant red foliage in the fall, produces fruit that in my opinion is tastier than blueberries, requires no special attention, and is super hardy to our climate. Let’s face it, it grows wild here. It requires no green thumb. If you like blue fruits in general, it makes excellent syrups, jams, pies, and wine. The one strike against is the few seeds in them, which for some probably compromises the texture. No biggie to my palate. Oh…and it suckers and self propagates prolifically, which to me is a pro, and to others may be a con.

I will say that the cultivated varietals I have experience with – smoky and thiessen – seem to be far superior to the wild plants. Clearly they were selected for size and flavor. When picking last year, I was astonished to learn that these things can get as big or bigger than any cultivated blueberry I’d ever seen. I also wonder if they were selected for moisture content, as these in the photo are juicier than a blueberry – wild saskatoons can be pretty dry, another reason I think some folks have a bias against.

Yields are actually heavier one might suspect: 2-3 kg/bush min up to 15kg when thiessens are catching their stride at year 7-8. I have about 20 or so young bushes bordering my front yard [roughly half thiessens], so it appears I can look forward to 40-300kg of saskatoon harvest down the road. That’s a lot of berries. Good thing they make good wine.