The song by the Clash, “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” is a good one that for some reason has been really popular with my memory lately. It is coming up so much and there it was again when I was picking Juneberries. Should I pie or should I jam?
The Juneberry tree in our yard is something I bought with a gift certificate we received from some dear friends so I would buy something in memory of my dad. I chose a Juneberry tree. I did a lot of research on choosing the right one that would reflect some attributes of my dad and of me. It had to be a native of Wisconsin, not hard to look at, give back in more ways than oxygen and not grow too big for it’s britches. It had to love May and June and not be hard to grow. It seems that it is a lot to expect from a tree, but then it is a tree and we are allowed to expect a lot from something so wonderful.
It has pretty white blossoms in May and develops little round berries in late June. The almost black berries are sweet and have many great qualities. They taste like a cross between a blueberry and raspberry. Some people think they taste like a cross between a cherry and a blueberry, but since I don’t enjoy cherries I tend to disregard that comment. They have a little soft crunch as the seed is very small and edible. Some say that there is an almond flavor. What I have thought is that the almond flavor is most notable when the berry is heated.
It’s official name is Amelachier. It is also known as Serviceberry, sarvis, sarvisberry, Saskatoon, Canadian medler, wild sugar plum, shadblow, shadbush, Maycherry, shadblossom, wild pea, chuckly pea or snowy mespilus. They are from the “pome” family so that means that they are more like an apple or pear than a berry. The individual berry is the size of a pea, yet they are easy to gather off the tree.
It was a key ingredient in making Pemikan. It can be made into jam, dessert, ect. It is nutrient dense with high levels of protein, calcium, iron and anti oxidants. It is similar to the blueberry in it’s nutrition.
I decided to make a jam. I have made it before experimenting using Chia seeds as a thickener and although the berries are not sour, I used some Agave to sweeten it a bit. I ground them up in the blender and then cooked them before adding the seeds and the sweetener.
I usually have to fight the robins for my share of the berries. They like them as much as I do. The berries are not my all time favorite, but when I pick them I think that my dad would appreciate that I was making something from the tree while enjoying it. He was industrious while appreciating the life of the growing thing. That meant that most things should earn their keep.
I don’t tend to think that way mostly because I suppose I have the luxury of not having to. I like things just because I like them, they don’t have to give me a tangible payout. Sometimes the payout is that they are just beautiful. When I could not pick the berries last year I liked it that the birds were having a feast.
They grow readily all over and as they are often planted now just for ornamental trees you could go to a business or an area that has them and kindly ask if you could pick them. I am sure that they would not mind as that would rid them of the falling ones that do not get eaten by the birds.
Since there is not a need to spray the trees for infestations you are safe to eat the fruit just passing buy. There is noting like eating right from the plant. A little dirt never hurt anyone. The Clash got their answer tonight as I decided to jam.