Sunday, 19 July 2015

Foraging in Our Backyard

Foraging for food is a concept that, to me, is becoming more trendy and mainstream these days. Even the term "foraging" is more stylish than "picking berries". When I was young it was something most farm women did out of necessity to keep sweet preserves throughout the winter months. We gorged on pies and bowls of fruit with cream and sugar before the long hot days of jam-making made the house too hot and the black flies insufferable. I should confess that I hated picking berries when I was young (much like I detested gardening....hmmm...perhaps my lifestyle is a return to the values my parents taught us back then). I am interested in learning to identify mushrooms so we can someday forage for them, but for now I'll settle for the saskatoon bushes we are lucky to have growing wild right here in our yard.

Saskatoon berries are similar to blueberries and this happens to be a great year for them. We are making the effort to freeze and preserve plenty so that we won't resort to buying blueberries fresh in the grocery store (they are tasteless anyways) or even the frozen bags that are trucked across the country. The few hours of work should save us money while also making use of wild, organic, local food that is literally on my doorstep.

So what to do when you have a glut of any particular crop? First I search through my granny's old recipe books, because they were compiled by prairie farm women who ate seasonally. A classic on the Canadian prairie is the Jean Pare Preserves cookbook, where I eventually chose the recipe for "fruit" as requested by our elderly neighbour. He described to me how his mother used to combine rhubarb and saskatoons in quart sealers.

I am not sure I got it right but I gave it a try and sent them over with Husband along with some saskatoon muffins (recipe adapted from my America's Test Kitchen Cookbook).

I also concocted a saskatoon berry syrup for the boys to have over pancakes.

I found a recipe for saskatoon sauce so I made that and froze the sauce to serve over cake this winter or use as pie filling or in muffins. All in all, I feel like we have made good use of the free wild berries on our land. I have 2 large ziplock bags of berries frozen already, and another 3 gallons of berries to do something with tomorrow. We haven't begun to put a dent in the berry supply, so I might do some jam for small gifts at Christmas. Have you got access to wild berries where you live? If so, what is your favourite way to preserve them?


  1. The berries look amazing....I can hardly wait until next spring. We have "dewberries" growing along the back roads. We also have mustang grapes in the summer. I understand they make wine, but they take so much sugar, even for jam. Thanks so much for stopping by my blog today....thank you for getting how I feel !!

    1. The prairie really has it's own allure...some people find it boring and joke that you can watch your dog run away for three days in Saskatchewan, lol, but once it is a part of your soul you just can't live anywhere else. I'm happy for you that you are going home!