By WAHEEDA HARRIS
A favourite summer taste in Canada’s Prairie provinces, the Saskatoon berry is in season during July and August. Similar to a blueberry in size and colour, the wee berry was gathered by aboriginal people for medicinal purposes—the name comes from the Cree word mis-sask-quah-toomina—and became a staple of the diet of the early farm pioneers.
Modern science has found this purple fruit is high in antioxidants as well as vitamin C, calcium, magnesium and potassium and that it has three times more iron than raisins. Once found only at farmers’ markets or in the wild, the berry it is now the second largest crop in the three Prairie provinces after strawberries, and can be found throughout the Prairies in jam, jelly, syrup and pies as well as in a wide variety of savoury recipes.
Where and how to try Saskatoon berries:
The Riverbend Plantation in Saskatoon offers an array of gourmet treats using Saskatoon berries from its farm—you can even order Saskatoon-berry-and-buffalo pemmican online and have it shipped. If you’re in the Prairies and want to pick your own, check with the Alberta Farm Fresh Producers Association (Alberta), BuyFromtheFarm.ca (Saskatchewan) or the Prairie Fruit Growers Association (Manitoba).