Living in the country often means that our internet access is spotty, and this day was no exception, so my plans for working went out the window. DARN! What was I going to do? I walked around the yard and realized that the Saskatoon berries were plump and ripe. As I got an old ice cream pail, my picking basket and a ladder, I wondered how this could possibly be – we are experiencing a drought in our area; the worst in over 60 years. It’s amazing that the trees and bushes can survive, let alone produce this wonderful bounty!
I grew up as many rural kids did, with a mother who planted a huge garden. We had raspberries, red and black currants, and gooseberries, not to mention apples and a huge vegetable and potato patch. This meant many days of picking, sorting, washing, packaging and canning, so that we could continue to enjoy the bounty throughout the winter. In my younger years, we didn’t pick Saskatoons – those were left for the birds. Since my kids were little, I’ve enjoyed going out to the fields with them and picking these wonderful local berries that make amazing pies, crisps, muffins and jam.
Here’s what a couple of hours of picking produced. There were a lot more berries, but eating is part of picking – 2 for the pail and 1 for the tummy!
When I came home, I decided that Saskatoon rhubarb pie was what I wanted to make. Rhubarb is also a real prairie plant that seems to survive anywhere – let it go and it will become a weed. The sour/tangy flavour of rhubarb really works well with the sweet berries.
This is my ‘No-Fail Pie Crust’ Recipe:
5 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 1/3 cups lard (1 lb) – I prefer the Burns brand
3/4 cup cold 7-Up or gingerale – I like gingerale, since that’s what I usually have around the house
In a large bowl, combine flour with salt; using pastry blender, cut lard until mixture resembles fine crumbs with a few large pieces.
In a glass measure, beat egg with fork. Pour in enough gingerale to make 1 cup. Stirring briskly with fork, gradually add egg mixture to flour mixture, just until dough holds together.
Turn out onto floured surface; knead 3 times to form ball. Divide into discs and wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes or until chilled.
I found my recipe for Saskatoon Rhubarb Pie through the Atco Blue Flame Kitchen, and it has never failed me!
4 cups Saskatoon berries
1 cup chopped rhubarb
1 tbsp. lemon juice
3/4 cup sugar
3 tbsp. quick-cooking tapioca
1 tsp grated lemon peel
Pastry for a 9″ double crust pie
1 tbsp. butter
Combine Saskatoon berries and rhubarb; drizzle with lemon juice. Combine sugar, tapioca and lemon peel; toss with fruit.
Line a pie pan with prepared pastry. Fill with mixture. Dot with butter. Cover with remaining pastry; flute edges. Cut vents in pastry.
Bake at 425F for 10 minutes. Reduce temperature to 375F and bake for around 45-55 minutes or until pastry is golden and filling is bubbly.
* You can also use fresh or frozen fruit in this recipe. If using frozen fruit, combine while frozen; do not thaw. Increase tapioca to 1/4 cup.
Here is a picture of the bounty we enjoyed! I made several pies, which I shared with some of my employees (confirmed bachelor) and friends at a housewarming party.
I hope you’ll find some time for berry picking – enjoy the bounty that you’ll find road-side or at your local grocery store!