Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Service Berries...

Sorry, I have been out of service for a bit.  Had to make a quick trip to Minnesota for a family reunion and my brother's birthday.  A good time was had by all.  I will talk about all of that later, I promised berries for the next post, so berries it is. 

Have you ever hear of service berries?  I call them South Dakota's version of the blueberry.  They are edible and are very similar to a blueberry, except maybe with a nutty after taste.  Here is the official definition from

Saskatoons - It is also called the Western or Pacific Serviceberry, Saskatoon Berry and Alder Leaved Serviceberry. They are very similar to blueberries. It is a Deciduous shrub/tree, to 40 ft (12 m), spreading to erect. They like well-drained moist soils. They are cold and drought tolerant. Flowers small, white, fragrant appear in early to late May or early June, and the purple fruit ripens in early to late July.    Fruit is 1-1.5 cm, rounded, purple-black, edible, sweet. Hardy to USDA Zone 4. Native range from southern Alaska to California, east to the Dakotas, Nebraska, New Mexico, and Arizona, mostly along river banks and moist thickets and forests.  Apparently, the fruit tastes a bit like a blueberry. The berries have a pleasing and unique flavor, and are also high in iron and copper. They are good eaten fresh or in desserts. Native peoples used them in soups, stews and pemmican. They were also used in medicines for stomach and liver problems, and the juice was used as a dye. They can be propagated from seed, cutting, or suckers. 

If you haven't guessed by now I am lucky enough to have a passel of these plants on our property (say that 3 times fast:).  I went berry picking before we left and I think I have about 20 cups worth of service berries.  I poured them into cake pans and froze them.  Then I used the food saver my Mom got me for Christmas (thanks Mom) and froze them in 3 or 4 cup packages.

Of course, before I went to all of this work I figured I'd make a pie to see if they taste good.  They do.  Both my husband and father-in-law were suspect of my berry identification skills and did their own research on service berries prior to partaking in pie eating (am I on a tongue twister roll or what?).  Once the pie was deemed edible we agreed that service berries taste similar to blueberries.  I'm happy about that since blueberry pie filling is $5 or more per can.

This recipe was taken from my Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook.  The cookbook was new in 1951, but a good recipe never goes out of style.

Blueberry (Service Berry) Pie
2 1/2 c. fresh berries
1 c. sugar
1/4 c. flour
dash of salt
1 T. lemon juice
2 T. butter

Combine berries, sugar, flour, salt, and lemon juice.  Fill pastry-lined pie pan.  Dot with butter and adjust top crust.  Bake at 400 degrees for 50 minutes.  You can add a dash of cinnamon for additional flavor.


  1. So that's what a Service Berry is supposed to look like! LOL. I had a Service Berry tree at my former house and it never did grow very much for me. Certainly never had berries!

    Your recipe looks just delish!

  2. What an interesting berry. I don't believe I have ever heard of those before. That's great that you have them growing on your property. Well, if 3 of you have definitely confirmed they are service berries from research on the internet, I think you are pretty safe. Your pie looks really, really good!

  3. Your pie looks very tasty. I am glad that we have lots of blueberries in Ohio. I can't imagine paying $5 a can for blueberry pie filling. I guess we just take blueberries for granted!!

  4. Glad you had a nice trip! Wow, you do have a not batch of berries. I had not heard of the service berries, but I bet it was nice to be able to pick your own, rather than pay the outrageous price in the stores! Thanks for sharing the recipe and story about the berries! Happy Gardening! Mindy

  5. Looks absolutely delicious, you can't beat a nice slice of pie, the nearest thing in England to service berries would be whinberries, but they don't grow near where we live.

  6. I grow serviceberries here but have never seen a berry yet since the birds beat me to it. So that's what they look like! And the pie looks delectable.

    (Love your tongue-twisters by the way, lol).

  7. There's nothing better than fresh berry pie in the summer time. So many memories of happy times, filled with family and love. Thank you for the memory, dear friend. XOXO

  8. I had never heard of those berries. Thanks for the lesson, which I always enjoy. Everything that is new is also fascinating to me.

    And that recipe... that pie? Yummmmm!

  9. love seeing your beautiful garden and your dog on the sidebar too....

    the berries sound wonderful..and i adore that pie...

    happy to see you at farmhouse kitchen

    kary and teddy

  10. i have never heard of service berries & i have been missing you!! nice that you have a life ;)

    that looks really good....can you send me a slice??

  11. You are so right about a good recipe never going out of style, and neither does a delicious homemade pie like this one!!

  12. I never heard of service berries. Lol at your husband and father-in-law doing research on it. Sounds like a great recipe!

  13. Mmmm, now that looks tasty! I wonder if the service berries are related to huckleberries or the 'salmon' berries we have here in the Cascades? Very interesting post and even better..they taste good! Rock on! So..I'll be keeping my fingers crossed that you get those pumpkins :) I really appreciated your kind words on my blog post. I feel too young to have a husband laid up in the hospital but it's looking like he'll recover and will come home in another week. Hope your vacation was time well spent :) Cheers, Jenni

  14. Oh you are very lucky to have berries so plentiful. The birds, the bears and the weather have left me nothing but wild grapes so far and they are not ripened. Oh I wish I lived close enough for a piece of pie. B

  15. Looks like you scored nicely on these berries. My first time I found Service berries it was in WV. The Service Berries were easy to find, the tops of the bushes were pulled down by bears. Yes bears love them and they are tasty as blueberries.

  16. Your photos and blog are wonderful !
    A follower I will be lol I also am from the K&E Photography blog thanx for your lovely comments! Have a wonderful day !

  17. Service berries do look tasty and how nice to be able to pick so many!

    Your house is beautiful! I love your flower beds. I could for sure sit on your porch for a while :)

  18. Thank you for the 411 about service berries. I love blueberries and they are not so tough, so maybe I can try to grow these babies. I love the flavor of blueberries... Your pie does look lovely.

  19. Service berries grow in northern Michigan. My mother always called them sugar plums. When I looked them up in the Great Lakes Berry Book I discovered that they are also called service berries or June berries or shads.

    And yes, the birds and bears love them. I have found large branches broken and pulled to the ground among a group of trees/bushes.

    I have used them to make jelly. The pie sounds great!

  20. That pie looks oh-so omnom-able. :)

    We have Serviceberries in Oregon. Oh, yes. I made a mixed berry jam with them, adding garden raspberries and it was HEAVENLY.


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