One good thing about COVID is that we have been returning to some of the simpler things in life-picking peas or tomatoes fresh off the vine from your own garden, smelling that wonderful yeasty aroma of freshly baked bread wafting from your kitchen or making pie from berries from a tree growing in your own back yard .
My husband and I have a garden every year, so it was not something we took up because of COVID as was the case for many others, along with the return to making bread. But I had almost forgotten about the tree at the back of our property as over time it has become rather hidden with the large Oak tree in front of it. However, I was reminded about it recently by the great number of robins congregating in our area. No wonder, as I discovered that our tree has been covered with berries. Since our neighbours also have Service Berry Trees, our properties have been particularly popular locations. The robins have had great feasts, to the point of appearing intoxicated, flying erratically through our carport often forgetting there is a door into the back yard. There has been at least one fatality because of this.
My husband had brought the subject of a berry pie up a few times, and he had even taken the ladder down in readiness for picking . So as he watered the garden one evening, up I climbed, only to be dive bombed by robins annoyed at my impertinence of taking their berries. I told them it is my tree too and I continued picking. Luckily I did, as by this time they hadn’t left many for me.
Saskatoon berries are small and it takes a lot of picking to get enough for a pie, but I persisted despite the ruckus and we enjoyed the fruits of my labour for dessert this evening. It was a sweet treat. But now I know to pick more berries before the robins beat me to it.
It takes four cups to make a pie, but since I had only two cups, I combined them with wild blackberries ( blueberries are often suggested ) that we had picked and then added raspberries after the other two berries had been sweetened and cooked until thickened. Personally, I think combining other berries makes for an even more delicious pie.
I discovered that there are different species of serviceberry trees a smaller bush-like version which grows throughout Ontario as far north as James Bay and a tree sized one that can be found in the area of the Ontario Manitoba border. We obviously bought the tree version as over the years it has grown to quite a height.
You may have wondered as I have, about how the berry got it’s name. One explanation is that when the first settlers reached New England, they often timed their funeral services according to the time the trees were in blossom as that meant the ground had thawed enough to dig a grave. Hence the berry came to be referred to as the serviceberry.