When I think about the Prairies and the most known native plants, I think of the Wild Rose (Alberta’s provincial flower), Silver Willow and its strong perfume and finally the Saskatoon berries. Somehow, I’ve never seen saskatoons for sale in grocery stores. You may see the odd jar of Saskatoon jam or syrup but never a basket of berries in the store. If you want them the end of July, you must find a U-pick farm or go pick wild ones! If you’re not familiar with saskatoon berries, they are also known as serviceberries and are similar in size to a blueberry but not quite as sweet and also seedy on the inside. They are high in antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory properties. I’m sure if you grew up on the Prairies, you have fond memories of picking and eating saskatoons as a child.
Funny enough, one of my first jobs as a kid was picking saskatoons at our neighbour’s berry farm, along with my brother and three other kids. I can’t remember how much we got paid per pail but I know our boss always said to eat as many as we’d like… and we did! Favourite ways to have saskatoons were pie, in muffins, jam and syrup. I’ve mixed it with apple sauce for homemade fruit leather for my kids too.
I wanted to create a soap that is proudly Prairie inspired and so the Saskatoon Berry soap was born last summer. It is routinely sold out and restocked which I am grateful for. My process for using them are I cook the saskatoon berries down and puree them, which gives a gentle exfoliation in the bar of soap. It also provides a natural purple brown colour to the bar. I’ve been told it’s a great gift to give visitors or to take on holidays to give family, as it is very much a unique and local product. We have a fresh batch just cured now and funny enough, it is ready the same time our saskatoon berries are ripening up outside! The kids have been out snagging all the purple berries as they ripen this week!
The other product we make that features saskatoon berries is our Black Charcoal Face Mask. Really! You read that I said it has anti-inflammatory properties, well it’s also high in Vitamin C and antioxidants which are also great for the skin! So we paired it with wildcrafted yarrow and white willow bark extract and black charcoal to create a nutrient rich, astringent face mask that is most beneficial for oily & combination skin. To utilize the saskatoon berries, we cook them down in a saucepan, then blend them, spread onto a sheet to dehydrate, then grind into a fine powder. It’s quite the lengthy process, but hey we strive to create wildcrafted body products that celebrate the Prairies. Each product tells a story. Who doesn’t remember their grandma baking a saskatoon pie? It’s simply the best.
With this years saskatoons, I decided I am planning to make a Saskatoon Berry Mead (aka honey wine) by fermenting the fresh berries into honey, water and yeast. Sorry I can’t share any with you! You know, covid rules. I’m pretty sure I’ll be having it all to myself! What’s your favourite way to have saskatoon berries? Happy picking!