"The tragic reality is that very few sustainable systems are designed or applied by those who hold power, and the reason for this is obvious and simple: to let people arrange their own food, energy and shelter is to lose economic and political control over them. We should cease to look to power structures, hierarchical systems, or governments to help us, and devise ways to help ourselves." - Bill Mollison

Monday, July 13, 2009

Grandmother's Juneberry Pie

As a wee lad my grandmother used to make pies out of what she called Juneberries. She used little pot pie tins and made my brother and I each pies regularly while the berries were in season. One of my fondest childhood memories, I'm smiling while I write this, was eating those little pies and, unbeknownst to my mother, watching grandma's favorite show, MASH, on a little black and white television in her single wide trailer. In remembrance of those times each summer in early July when the Saskatoon's (Juneberries) are ripe we not only pick many gallons for later use but my wife makes a simple pie out of the almond flavored berries.

The Saskatoon, serviceberry, or Juneberry is a shrub native to some parts of the U.S. and Canada that grows wild all over Northern Idaho. Saskatoon berries contain higher levels of protein, fat, and fiber than most other fruit. They were once used by native people as a key ingredient in pemmican, a nutritious traditional Cree Indian food comprised of dried venison or other wild game, animal fat, bone marrow, and berries.

We use this berry as an indicator of when to begin hunting for huckleberries as the earliest ones ripen around the same time. Many of this year's berries seem a bit small and not nearly as numerous as last year due to the lack of moisture this summer. Hopefully the mountain huckleberries have fared better, we shall soon find out.


kentuckyagrarianwannabe said...

Just found your blog through another site and enjoyed going back through the archives. We don't have juneberrys in Kentucky but the pies sure look good. Keep up the good work.


LynnS said...

Yesterday evening, I was reading about this berry in a foraging book. What a wonderful bush to have in your region!

The pie looks amazingly deeeeelicious. With such a fond memory-connection to your grandmother, there is no doubt you will savor each bite.

randi said...

Wow, what a co-inkeedinks, today was the first time I grazed on the serviceberry I put in three years ago. Perhaps the birds always beat me to it or it finally decided to fruit but boy were they delicious. My first time trying them and no disappointment! Loved hearing the story about your gramma. We really are lucky to have had these great people in our lives. I'm smiling too.

Mr. H. said...


Thanks for visiting my site, I looked at your blog and am most impressed with your ideals and lifestyle. We even like the same movies and books.

Man your cabbage looks great!


Mr. H. said...


My wife just got two new foraging books at a garage sale, I am looking forward to digging into them. I have a hard time reading in the summer months but become very engrossed in books during the winter.

In not keeping with tradition the pie was processed sugar free. Honey was used to sweeten it, still it was pretty darn good and did not last very long.:)

Mr. H. said...


A coincidence indeed, I love grazing on all berries but the ones I don't have to tend hold a special place in my heart.:)

I bet your serviceberries are really fat and juicy from all that rain, I know it has a huge effect on ours. They are really neat bushes that need very little attention. I am trying to get a couple wild ones established in our garden area. They are one bush that will rarely let you down once established.

Accidental Huswife said...

Looks so tasty! I love the story too -- the little pie pans, watching a forbidden show at gandma's. Love it!

Roasted Garlicious said...

here on the coast (vancouver island) the saskatoons are the biggest and best i've seen ever! usually they are very mealy here... having lived also on the prairies i know there is a huge difference in flavour... this year i'm going to pick and make jam.. they are worthy finally YAY!!!

Mr. H. said...

Accidental Huswife,

Oh yes, it was definitely a forbidden show... and one I still like to watch upon occasion.

Mr. H. said...

Roasted Garlicious,

Our saskatoons always taste good but if we don't get the moisture they are few and far between. Last year they were the biggest we ever had. I'm glad the ones in your area are doing so well. I must say, I have never had saskatoon jam though, sounds delicious.

Thanks for stopping by and visiting,


Mrs. Mac said...

So that's what those berries are that grow wild in my area. I have a few in my backyard. They resemble the look of a blueberry ... but don't taste as good. I bet if they are wild and edible, they have lots of nutritious value .. though lacking in taste. My property is loaded with nice juicy thimble berries (to my best knowledge) This year they seem very plump and are worth picking .. though very delicate. I put them in waffles the other morning.

Mr. H. said...

Mrs. Mac,

The berries are extremely nutritious. They contain a fair amount of vitamin C and the seeds are considered anti-carcinogenic, anti-oxidant and anti-aging.

We have never found thimble berries in large amounts, talk about a sweet berry. I bet they made the most delicious waffles.

I hope the last few days weather was not to hard on your garden, we lucked out with mostly gentle rains. I did hear that a major wind and hail storm wipped through Post Falls though.

Me said...

Thank you for this post! I bought a few Saskatoon bushes beacuse they claimed to be similar to blueberries. I have found little info on them since my purchase. :)

I am in southern Idaho so I hope they do well here. I love reading your blog, keep up the good work!

Mr. H. said...

Hi Me,

Check out:

for some good information on growing Saskatoon bushes. They really are a bit different in taste then a blueberry, but are an excellent berry none the less.

I read your last gardening post and wanted to refer you to my February 7th post "Our Winter Garden" for a list of plants that should do well for you in zone 5 if planted now. The mustard, corn mache, spinach, and arugula will grow much better closer to fall but the rest of the plants I listed should thrive if planted now.

Thanks for stopping by,


Anonymous said...

Nice looking pie, can you please send over a slice! I LOVE Saskatoon berry pie. We don't have those growing around here but I do pick them when I'm up in the Cariboo where they do grow wild (if I happen to be up there during their season that is).

SuburbanGardener said...


Howdy. Those berries look pretty tasty. Went to Rocky Mountain National Park yesterday and imagined that Idaho might have some similar vistas. The banner photo on your blog looks a lot like the meadows in Colorado. What a fantastic place. Wilderness galore. Pretty soon we'll go back to the city, but for now we're enjoying some of what you get to experience all the time.


Mr. H. said...


The berries do make a pretty darn good pie. I'm really surprised that they do not grow in your neck of the woods.

Mr. H. said...


Lucky you, I have always wanted to see the Colorado Rockies. It sounds like you will have to move north someday, it's hard to go back after being in such places isn't it?

The banner picture is a newly formed beaver pond in an area we pick mushrooms in the spring. The bad part about it is they are flooding the area we go to pick apples in the fall, I bet many of the trees will be killed due to all the water.

Me said...

Thank you for the information on Juneberries and for the great list of fall garden veggies. :) I am planning as I write.

Anonymous said...

The would grow if I got some plants, and they are rumored to be around here but I have yet to find any in the wilds. They seem to be more a high country berry. We have a lot of wild berries, but the Saskatoons are elusive creatures here.

Anonymous said...

PS. have you ever just warmed them with a tad of sugar over the stove? Very yummy on their own, over ice cream or with a dollop of fresh whipped cream. And, oh so simple. They take on an almond essence flavour when heated that is very sumptuous.

Mr. H. said...


Warmed over the stove sounds good, I may have to try that. Thanks for the idea.

Raised By Bears said...

Surprised to hear people saying juneberries don't taste as good as blueberries. Those in our area are great and
twice as sweet - and can be made into pies using no sugar. Picking them is a sticky proposition - requiring a good wash-up before touching anything.

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