I moved into my townhome over 3 years ago. Before living here I had no idea what a service berry was. Turns our service berries or June berries are also known as Saskatoon berries. They are a small maroon to deep purple-colored fruit that grows on the service berry shrub or tree. they ripen typically in June depending on what part of the country you live in. Juneberries are sweet with an edible seed inside. They can be eaten fresh, dried and used like raisins, or cooked into jams or other desserts. I learned from my neighbor that you can harvest them and I promptly started making drink syrups.
To harvest them, simply pick the fruit from the tree when it reaches a dark maroon color. Just like blueberries, select berries that are smooth and plump. Serviceberries will continue to ripen (and sweeten) after being picked so keep that in mind when it comes to timing. But don’t wait too long. Once the berries start to ripen on the trees, the Robins swoop in for their fill and most of the berries will be gone in a couple of days.
This master recipe works well with a variety of summer berries. You can substitute raspberries, strawberries, blueberries or blackberries if you don’t have June Berries. The thickness of the syrup will depend on the berries you use: Some are juicier, resulting in a thinner syrup, while others, like blueberries, have more pectin, yielding a thicker syrup. Whatever you decide you can use the leftover Berry pulp for a rough jam.
- 3 cups fresh service berries washed and rinsed and stems picked out.
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar (service berries are sweet)
- 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
- In a medium heavy-duty saucepan, place berries with 1 cup water and 1/3 cup sugar.
- Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer until the berries are very soft and juicy about 5 minutes.
- Set a fine sieve over a bowl. Pour the berry pulp into the sieve and allow the juice to drip through. Gently press the pulp with a rubber spatula to extract as much juice as possible.
- Add 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- Transfer to a mason jar or cruet.