Monday, June 6, 2016

Serviceberries are ripe

On my way home from a garden consultation in Prospect Heights (a neighborhood that I have not visited in about four years - when we looked at a very nice apartment with a waterless roofdeck, and which is changing so fast you can feel the whiplash) I saw a triangle of park dripping with ripe serviceberries. No one paid them any mind, not the birds, not the people. They were fat with purple juice. So I grazed for a while, cursing the fact that I had no nifty paper bag in my handbag. Bad forager.

I have never seen them at a greenmarket. But when I started writing about Japanese knotweed five years ago, I had never seen that at a farmers market, either. That has changed. It's now on the menu at Daniel, trickles in to greenmarkets and shows up in all sorts of wild food forums.

My message is: New York? Serviceberries are ripe. NOW! They are sweet, similar to blueberries in texture, but juicier, and with a flavor more like apples, And like marzipan when cooked. And very soon I must collect a bagful or two. I think I like them raw, best.

You're a New Yorker who thinks this fruit is dirty because it grows in a city? You grow in a city! You drink its water, breathe its air.

A surprising number of educated people have perplexing myopia when it comes to appreciating the course taken by the food they eat to reach their plate. Out of season blueberries, wrong-season raspberries and strawberries drenched in pesticides, often grown thousands of miles away, hold zero appeal for me. They are un-fruit. This is the real deal, ripe right now, and gone by next week.

Dig in.


  1. Here near Buffalo, they are still green, but I imagine they'll be ripe by the weekend. I'm watching very closely, as last year I wasn't quick enough and only got a handful away from the robin who considers it his own personal serviceberry bush.

    1. Toni - any good food, foraging or farmers market tips for Buffalo? I'll be there for a couple of days over a weekend, soon.

    2. We go to the Clarence Hollow Farmer's Market pretty much every Saturday because it's really close to us, but it is on the small side. Personally, I like that so I can get to know the vendors. But I know that there's a larger indoor market, Niagara Frontier Growers on Clinton Street in the city, that's open every day.

      There are lots of wooded areas around here, but I know there are some groups that go foraging around Colden, which is a ways out of town. There's a local dairy farm that has a small shop open on Friday and Saturday (White Cow Dairy) that sometimes has ramp sauce or different things like that. Obviously, it's very seasonal.

      There are so many restaurants here, I couldn't even begin to tell you, and there are several organic places to choose from. Toronto is also close and I've seen a list of restaurants there that specialize in foraged foods.

      Are you coming to Buffalo for anything fun?

  2. This is a gentle reminder that we still have blueberries (from our yard) in the freezer. Perhaps it's time for a pie!

  3. Those look delicious! aka Saskatoon berries in Canuck. There is a commercial farm not far from here, but I pick from my favorite secret wild patch (the robins and starlings know about it tho'- we share). One of my favourite pies.

    An annual box of cornflakes, ice cold milk, Saskatoon berries and a bit of sugar is a treat.


    P.S. I was in Vancouver BC for the weekend, I recall your posts from a few years ago. Lots of yummy food and cocktails, plus the ocean and west coast plants.

    1. Woah, really - someone is growing them for market? Where...zactly?

      Vancouver is special.

    2. Apparently approximately 800 hectares in cultivation in western Canada, with over 4000 hectares in the next 10-15 years.

      I'm sure there are U.S. growers as well.



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