A Sweet Sauce from the Garden

This spring, the serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea) in the back border has produced a prolific crop of berries, so many that a steady stream of cardinals, robins and other birds hasn’t been able to strip the tree bare of ripe berries before we humans get a chance for harvest.

Tonight after dinner, the tree was hanging heavy with ripe berries in multiple shades of purple, burgundy and red. I grabbed a small bowl and started picking. In just a 10 to 15 minutes, I had the bowl filled with approximately three cups of ripe serviceberries.

The berries are approximately 1/4-1/2 inch in diameter, with smooth waxy skins that taper off in a flourish of old sepals at the tip. The flesh is a cloudy white, with four elongated, brown seeds on the stem side of the fruit.

The first step in processing the serviceberries was washing them under cold water in the kitchen sink.

Next, I removed any stems that were still attached to the berries.

The berries were mashed with a metal cooking spoon and put on medium simmer in a small saucepan.

In about 5-7 minutes, the berries began to resemble cranberry relish as their natural pectic began to thicken.

To remove the seeds and skins, I processed the berry mash through a food mill.

Once milled, just over 1.5 cups of “sauce” remained from the original three cups of berries — a higher ratio than I expected, so I was pleased.

I returned the berries to the sauce pan and added 1-1/8 cups of sugar to sweeten the sauce.

The sugar dissolved as the sauce took on a beautiful raspberry color.

The final sauce filled just over one small mason jar.

I don’t expect this serviceberry sauce will last more than a few days, so there was no need to safely seal the mason jars for long term storage. I’m looking forward to trying some over waffles in the morning and as an ice cream sauce tomorrow evening. If there’s some left over, I may freeze it to use as a “stock” for some serviceberry sorbet later this summer.

Tonight’s serviceberry harvest took advantage of the low-hanging fruit. Depending on how tasty this sauce turns out, tomorrow I may get out the ladder to harvest the rest of the berries to plunk in the freezer for later processing.

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