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.