A few years back while at the school playground, my daughter ran up to me and asked if she could eat some “juneberries,” which she had found growing on trees planted around the play equipment. Wary at first (but figuring that it was extremely unlikely the school would’ve planted poisonous berries on their playground), I checked online and determined that the berries were edible, so she was allowed to try them. I even tried one myself, and discovered that they tasted something like a cross between a blueberry and a cranberry– sweet but with a tang. They were pretty good!
Since then, we’ve noticed juneberry bushes all over our neighborhood parks, and while the berries are only ripe for a very short period (in June, of course), they’re abundant as long as you can get to them before the birds do!
This June we decided to finally make a serious effort to harvest some, rather than just picking them here and there, so one afternoon we set out with a plastic Halloween bucket and managed to collect just over 2 pounds of berries. It didn’t look like quite enough to make a pie, so we decided to make jam.
There are a bunch of juneberry (also known as serviceberry or Saskatoon berry) jam recipes out there, but they varied so widely in terms of how much sugar to put in and whether or not to add pectin, that I hesitated to settle on any single recipe. Since many bloggers agreed that juneberry jam occasionally refused to gel, I decided to add pectin after all, and once that was settled I just looked at the recipe in the box for raspberry jam to set my sugar/fruit ratio.
I mashed my berries with a potato masher, leaving a bunch of whole ones to get a nice texture on the finished jam, then combined them with the sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice, brought them to a boil, and then added my pectin.
Of course, after my crabapple jelly adventure I should’ve known that I always have some mishap when it comes to jam– as I was trying to stir my boiling jam while squeezing the pectin packet, the packet slipped out of my hand entirely and fell into the pot, splashing boiling jam onto my shorts and legs (ouch!) and all over the stove! Since I couldn’t just let the foil/plastic packet stay in the pot, I had to stand there and fish it out with my spoon, then hold the dripping packet over the pot (so as not to waste the pectin) while I called for assistance. Once my husband arrived to take over stirring, I was able to splash some cold water on my legs and confirm that there was no real injury. Whew! The jam itself cooked up fine, and I ladled it into my jars with no issue.
The jam itself turned out well– a nice, spreadable texture, with a touch too much sweetness for my taste, but it still tastes good. Next time, more lemon juice. That is, if there is a next time– we ended up with NINE jars of jam, so we have a lot to get through before we’re ready to make more! Maybe next year…
4 cups mashed juneberries (about 2 lbs.)
6 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 pouch liquid CERTO pectin
- Combine fruit, sugar, and lemon juice in a large pot. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
- Once your fruit is at a rolling boil, carefully add pectin and stir in. Continue to boil for one minute.
- Remove from heat, skim off foam with a spoon, and ladle into prepared jars.
- Process as desired– I didn’t bother sterilizing everything and didn’t want to boil the finished jars, so mine will be stored in the refrigerator.
- Let closed jars sit at room temp for a few hours until cool enough to handle. Transfer to the refrigerator to store.