Wednesday, August 3, 2011

How to Pick Saskatoon Berries

Picking saskatoons is a family tradition. I started picking when I was knee-high to a grasshopper, going to the coulees on my grandpa's land with him and my dad and learning this skilled technique. I may be a city girl right now, but baby, I've still got it: I went to a U-Pick the other day and picked these pails in 1.5 hours.

You too can be a lean, mean berry-picking machine. Here are my tips:

Outfit: long-sleeved light-coloured shirt, jeans, and running shoes for protection from mosquitoes, sun, and miscellaneous scratchy plants 

Accessories: belt to hang pail on for freeing up both hands - two to pick, or one to pick and one to hold down a branch within reach (saskatoon bushes are very supple - they can take it).

Equipment: ice cream pail with handle (and lid if you fear spills). They used to make sturdier ice cream pails with metal handles, which were much better for berry picking - held up to the weight of the berries - but the contemporary kind are adequate.

Method: grasp cluster of ripe berries in hand, gently strip downward (almost like milking a cow) so the berries fall into your palm, then drop into the pail at your waist.

Cleaning the berries: I sit at the table with a large bowl in my lap and a small one on the table by my right hand with a towel of some sort on the table in front of me. Dump a cup or two of berries on the towel and roll towards bowl in lap, scanning for aberrations such as unripe, wrinkled, or just ugly berries*, and picking them out to put in the smaller bowl. Much of the detritus - leaves, bugs, etc - will be left behind on the towel (and you can use it to squish the bugs). After that, float berries in a bowl of water to rinse and drain in a colander.


Does anyone have favourite saskatoon recipes they'd like to share?

*My dad used to go through my bowl of discards, picking out many that I thought were too gross to eat, and putting them in the edible bowl.


  1. Nice berries. It may sound a little strange but we love to add these to our salads. Picked a gallon yesterday morning.

  2. Thanks Dad! Well, aren't these rejects at least good for pie?


  3. Nope. The rejects are really greebly. Not just unripe or shrivelled, but sometimes deformed so half the seeds are outside the body. Sometimes with bug holes. Or so my imagination leads me to believe.