Thursday, July 7, 2011

First Pick of the Year!

I went on my first pick this season with Not Far From the Tree today and came home with not one but two types of fruit- serviceberries and red currants! Serviceberries (also known as saskatoon berries) closely resemble blueberries in looks and taste, except that they grow on trees. Here in Toronto serviceberry trees are quite common, being a very popular choice of the municipal native tree planting program a few years ago. Today's pick wasn't exactly spectacular, yielding a scant 4 lbs from two trees. Half went to PARC a local community kitchen and the other half was divided between the volunteers - we were 7 in total so my share was about a cup total. The currants were an added bonus; not part of our assigned pick , the homeowner who I know from the Sorauren Market allowed me to pick them as well since he doesn't do anything with them. I ended up with just about a cup of them as well.

I debated just eating them fresh but now that I have free time again, the urge to can them won out and I hunted around until I found a recipe that suited both. What I came up with was an combination of a few different recipes, mainly based on a red currant and blueberry jam recipe found here

Small Batch Serviceberry Red Currant Jam
I used equal amounts of the berries and a matching amount of sugar -in my case 1 cup of each. With both I included some underripe berries (about 25%) to help with set since there's more available pectin.

Heat currants in a non reactive pot with a small amount of water until berries are soft and release juice. Strain through a sieve, pressing down with the back of a spoon- since it will be jam not jelly it doesn't matter if the juice is cloudy. Add juice and sugar back to the pot, heat over med high until boiling, stirring regularly.

When juice is thickened,about 5 minutes, add serviceberries and continue to boil. I also added a few cloves and allspice. Heat while stirring until serviceberries are softened, then mash with a potato masher. Stir well and check for set if necessary- I didn't have to because it was already setting in the pot. Pour in sterilized jars and process for 5 minutes in a hot waterbath canner.

I ended up with two x scant 125 ml jars which I didn't bother to can, intending to put them in the fridge. The jam turned out fantastic- sweet yet tangy, and pretty too. One jar didn't even make it to the fridge but was devoured with some brie.

Looks like I need to do some more picking!

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