Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Early June 2011 Canning: Rhubarb + Serviceberries


Berry season is here! Yesterday I mentioned foraging serviceberries, a special native treat, which I preserved as a sauce and syrup over the weekend.

What are serviceberries?

Baltimore Brew's resident foraging expert, Marta Hanson, wrote a fabulous article detailing the lore of serviceberry and its many names. She's my local foraging heroine!

As you can see from Marta's articles, the Johns Hopkins campus is a real bounty of wild food, and special thanks to whoever decided to use these edible native trees as ornamentals.

Here's a photo of the berries, and a link to last year's post which has more information and photos of the pie they made.


Plenty of people stopped me while I was foraging to ask what I was doing. Some people were really excited and interested, and some were wary that the berries weren't really edible... I guess seeing the berries that close to their natural habitat was a bit confusing!

Serviceberries aren't usually marketed, mostly because they are a pain to harvest and have as much seeds as fruit. They don't make the best fresh eating, but they make a fine berry pie. As for taste, they have the color and aftertaste of a blueberry, but the larger seeds and dryness of a cranberry.

The yellow jars are full of rhubarb syrup, which Chicken Man loves. The rhubarb was a bit expensive ($5/bunch), but two bunches made five jars, so $2 per jar ain't bad! The jars themselves add to the cost, but since you can re-use them year after year that cuts down on cost.

The National Center for Home Food Preservation posts directions for canning rhubarb here.

Don't let the descriptions like: "A lug weighs 28 pounds and yields 14 to 28 quarts" confuse you! Making the sauce is really quite simple.

We chopped up two bunches of rhubarb, then mixed it with about a cup of sugar. Let sit overnight in the fridge. Cook on the stove until it is the texture of sauce. Taste as it cooks and add more sugar if needed.

These small jars are half-pints. I processed them in the boiling water for 15 minutes to sterilize the jars and seal the tops. Now they are shelf-stable for a year!

The berry and rhubarb syrups will make good toppings for ice cream, yogurt, cheese and crackers, pancakes, cake, or pastry fillings. I'll take suggestions if you have other serving ideas as well!

I've even got some of the serviceberry syrup to mix into lemonade for sale at the Urban Food Fair. Come visit if you'd like a jar!

1 comment:

Brian said...

Nice find with the service berries. I decided to forage a little last Friday after watering and feeding my plot and found some black rasberries. Very yummy. I think I also found some blueberries in their flowering stage but not sure yet. I'll have to wait and see if fruit sets.

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