Monday, May 31, 2010

Amelanchiers for dessert

The first amelanchier (juneberry, serviceberry, shadbush) I ever saw consciously was in Ayvalik, Turkey. It grew in Lale's garden, and was full of berries (above). I stood beside it and ate as many as I felt I could, politely. I didn't know, then, what it was.

Then Lale fed us a memorably beautiful lunch under her jasmine arbour. That was in 2005.

In 2007 Marijke visited New York and one day announced that there were these delicious red berries growing in the park in Dumbo, and that we should go and pick them. I rode my bike over the Brooklyn Bridge from work, we met, we picked, and so was born my love for this beautiful and useful shrub and tree, native to North America. White blossoms, red fruit, orange fall colour.

I picked my berries on Friday evening at about 6.30. No one bothered me, and no one stared obviously. New Yorkers are good at staring without seeming to. A German man walking two dogs stopped and tasted after asking me what I was doing, but was unimpressed by the flavour. He pointed out three shrubs and said he thought those were blueberries, but they were also amelanchier. Not quite ripe yet. In fact I hope the berries will continue to ripen for the next couple of weeks, because I'd like to go back. More recipes to play with, ideas to find... I made pâte sablée biscuits, heart-shaped for my tired husband, whose work schedule has him coming home just before daybreak some nights. I used some almond flour for the first time - this is the Roux Brothers' recipe - and, as they say, it is a less crumbly biscuit than the no-almond flour version I usually make, but consequently less fragile too. And good.

I wanted to make something very simple with the berries. So, the crisp biscuit (or cookie, depending on where you are), a dollop of whipped cream into which some berry syrup had been whisked, and a spoonful of lightly cooked amelanchier berries on top.

Their almond essence flavour comes through after heating, and I dribbled just a little of the syrup on afterwards.

The rest of the syrup I am keeping for prosecco. Constanza will be in the house next Saturday, and I think that will be a good celebratory drink.

Now I must just find the mulberries...

See my recipe for mulberry tarts at 66 Square Feet (the Food)...


  1. Looks so delicious...What do those berries taste like? I don't think I've ever seen them anywhere here.

  2. Heartbreaking beautiful dessert. Just one little taste please.

    Have I skipped a chapter? Where is Vince working?

    Hope you both have today off. xo Jane

  3. In the South (U.S.) it's serviceberry or shadberry - but I didn't know it was edible, much less good! Great info.

  4. And when you find your mulberries, remember that mulberry stain can be removed with unripe mulberry.

  5. I must research this berry. Hate to think that I was missing out on something as delicious looking as this!

  6. Ooh, you could grow several, Thomas, in that big garden of yours. I don't know why these berries are not sold commercially, though perhaps they are at some farmers' markets.

  7. Anyes - they are sweet, with a hint of slightly unripe peach, and after cooking they taste like marzipan, or almond essence... why? The seeds contain cyanide :-) Start looking in your area, I think you may notice them now...

    flwrjane - aw, Ok, there's one here for you. Actually, I'm making a tart tonight? Shame, Vince is working today, about to get home now, to BBQ'd ribs, yee ha. He's a manager at the Empire State Building...

    webb, yes - so interesting, the names. Shad to coincide with the running of the shad, service because in cold places the blossoms coincide with the return to church of people out in the snowed-in boondocks...June berries for obvious reasons. Amelanchier is the botanical name - I don't know what it means. Please try some of them - I love them. Good in jam but best mixed with another red fruit like strawberry or raspberry, as on their own they tend to be a bit pippy/seedy seedy.

    dinahow - really? Have you tried? When I think of the purple feet I had when I was little...I used to pick a bowlful in the neighbor's tree, and we'd have them for lunch, with cream.

  8. I can't believe I have been living with an Amelancheir shrub that is 12 feet tall and full of bright red berries, just outside my doorstep,on my property, for three years and have never bothered to taste the fruit! I'm going to pick them right now! Thank you for the eye-opener!


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