Saskatoons: The Purple Powerfood

Everyone loves blueberries and many have heard how healthy they are for you.

The berry I am in love with more is a close cousin Ė the saskatoon. It actually has more nutrition and benefits.

Following are all the facts and benefits of these little purple powerfoods and my own experience with them.

Also called:

  • June Berries
  • Service Berries
  • Shadbush
  • Pigeon berry

Interesting Facts:

  • Has one to four teeny tiny seeds inside which you usually donít notice.
  • Was a staple food for the North American Indian people. Tribes held ceremonies and feasts to celebrate the beginning of the Saskatoon harvest.
  • The Cree name for this plant is ‘mis-ask-quah-toomina’ which early settlers shortened to ‘saskatoon.’
  • The city named after this berry has the most hours of sunshine and the fastest economic growth of any city in Canada. The legendary Joni Mitchell grew up there.

Health Benefits:

  1. Packed with antioxidants Ė those mighty fixers for the body which repair damage, prevent heart disease, and slow down aging.
  2. Has over six times the amount of calcium as blueberries (see saskatoon study).
  3. Has twice the manganese of blueberries.
  4. Has more protein, fat, fiber, and iron than blueberries.
  5. While the berry has been used for liver troubles and diarrhea, its inner bark or roots were a remedy for constipation.
  6. A 100 gm serving has 22 percent of your daily requirement for iron.
  7. Like all fruit, it has natural sugars, or smart carbs, so you don’t deal with dangers of white sugar.
  8. Because of all this power-packed nutrition we put them in the category of powerfoods, like seaweed, spinach and cabbage.

What do saskatoons taste like?

This of course is a difficult question to answer. Although similar to blueberries, they have a fuller wild flavor and have very tiny almond-flavored seeds inside.

Picking saskatoons:

Pick the berries that are most purple as these are the ones that are ripe and sweet. The branches bend down allowing one to reach higher berries. I often picnic in a place where they are growing.

If you cannot pick them; you will often find them in farmerís markets in Canada.

My Love Affair
My friend suggested I use the term “love affair” because I am mad it seems about picking berries of all kinds.

I go out picking them as soon as they are ripe. Technically Iím a city girl since I was born and raised there, but I still picked 5 1/2 gallons and froze 4 gallons of these small treasures this year – without leaving the city limits. I found a wild spot where I take special friends; we pick, eat and talk. It is always fun even when we compete in a fun way to see who picks the most.

When I ate the last of my fresh saskatoons I discovered that I was a saskatoon addict and drove to a country farm to pick 2 more gallons which I am not freezing; I am eating two bowls a day while they are around. I love them fresh best!

I even planted two bushes in my front yard. They are full of showy flowers in the spring, colorful berries in the summer and then beautiful leaves in the fall.

As a child, my father would load all five of us kids into his blue Chevy pickup truck with buckets for all. We would drive out hunting near the woods, creeks and river valleys. We loved going picking saskatoons because we loved the taste of saskatoons thus we would always come back with full tummies and of course full buckets too. Back then my mother would preserve dozens of jars of them for us to eat in the winter. I fondly remember those delicious jars of saskatoons I helped my mother make for us – so delicious.

Now I freeze them which is easier and more nutritious.

Here is one simple recipe: Saskatoon Crumble

And to learn more about Cooking With Wild Plants


Dale O.

Love wild berries, they are so very delicious. Have some on hand at the moment, but these won't be around for long.

Teresa W, you are worrying about parasites in wild berries? One can easily clean them, plus the fact that humankind has been eating wild berries for eons and we are not all dead yet or infested with 'berry parasites.'

Alexandra G.
Alexandra G2 years ago

good to know, thank you

Donna J Street
Donna Street5 years ago

we recently saw these in a wild-life refuge and wondered if they were year we will find them closer to home and try some for sure

Chantellerenee V.
Chantelle V5 years ago

I wonder if I could grow them here in San Diego.. Southern California?

K s Goh
KS Goh5 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Chinmayee Jog
Chinmayee Jog5 years ago

Thanks, I haven't actually heard of this berry until now, even with all its different names! Don't know if we find it anywhere in Australia though...

Melinda K.
Past Member 5 years ago

Fascinating, I have never seen these, be great if we could all grow them

Olivia Offline S.
Past Member 5 years ago

Thanks. We have many service berry bushes growing wild on our property. I have never heard of them referred to as Saskatoons.

Erin M.
Erin M5 years ago

Wow, thanks! I had no idea what they were.