The Real Food Guide

Urban foraging for serviceberries (aka saskatoon berries)


Urban foraging for ServiceberriesWe bought our home about 3 years ago, and every year, we aim to gradually expand our garden beds to add curb appeal and hopefully crowd out some weeds. So a few months ago, this article caught my eye: “Gardening: A small tree for all seasons“. Not only is the Amelanchier tree an early flowerer, but as an added bonus, it grows sweet little red berries – serviceberries. Serviceberries are also called shadbush or saskatoonberries. And like all colorful berries, they’re high in antioxidants as well as fiber and minerals like manganese, magnesium and iron.

Well, that was all fine and good. I filed it away in my mind as a good plant to get, should I happen upon a decent nursery, and then I stumbled upon the Facebook page for Hidden Harvest Ottawa  and that’s where I learned that these delicious little berries are growing all around the city – planted by the city – all awaiting an enterprising urban forager. You can consult their map to see where there are city-owned food-bearing trees near you. Or, if you’re wanting to plant your own tree to contribute to the local food supply, you can buy a serviceberry tree through Hidden Harvest Ottawa. If you’re not fortunate enough to be in the Ottawa area, similar organizations exist in other cities as well.

Having consulted the map, I trekked out to a local park that was known to have a city-owned serviceberry tree, and we also went down the street to ask a neighbor if it was okay to harvest some berries from their city-owned tree. (Please do not eat wild berries that you cannot positively identify!)

Here’s what we did with our bounty:

Serviceberry or saskatoon berry crumble – paleo, egg-free, nut-free, dairy-free

serviceberry pudding

(Because of my various food sensitivities, This is a: egg-free recipe, dairy-free recipe, nut-free recipe, vegan recipe and a paleo recipe – Phew!) Technically, this is a berry crumble recipe, since there’s a bottom layer of berries, with a top ‘crust’. However, without eggs as a binder, the texture of the topping is less crumbly and more soft. Hat tip to Grass Fed Girl, as this crumble topping is adapted from her egg and grain-free blueberry coffee cake. When served warm, it’s like a sweet oatmeal (without the oats). So while it might not be a traditional crumble, it is a great little dessert for those of us with multiple sensitivities.

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Serviceberry (saskatoon berry) crumble (egg-free, nut-free, dairy-free)

Serviceberry (saskatoon berry) crumble (egg-free, nut-free, dairy-free)


    Berry filling:
  • 3 cups of serviceberries, saskatoon berries or other type of berry
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup of maple syrup, depending on the sweetness of your berries
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • Topping:
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 2/3 cup of water
  • 2/3 cup of apple sauce
  • 6 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp of sea salt
  • 8 tsp maple syrup
  • 6 tbsp coconut oil


    For the berry filling:
  1. Add berries, water, maple syrup and chia seeds into a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-high. Cook for about 15 minutes, reducing the volume to a thick, sauce.
  2. Transfer the mixture to a 8 x 8 square baking dish, and set aside while making the topping.
  3. For the "crumble" topping:
  4. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  5. Mix the chia seeds with water and apple sauce in a small bowl and set it aside to thicken for about 10 minutes.
  6. In a mixing bowl, add the coconut flour, baking soda and salt and mix well. Add the maple syrup and coconut oil and mix together.
  7. Add the chia seed mixture into the mixing bowl, forming the batter.
  8. Drop spoonfuls of the batter on top of the berry mixture and spread around the top off the square baking dish.
  9. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown.
  10. Cool slightly and serve warm!

Vivian is the founder of the Real Food Guide and a Registered Holistic Nutritionist (RHN) who believes that each individual needs to go on their own Real Food Journey to find what works. While she herself eats a diet of real food (aka a paleo diet), some people may find that they can flourish on a vegetarian diet instead. However, universal to optimal health and well-being is good quality, nutrient-dense, Real Food.

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July 12 |

3 thoughts on “Urban foraging for serviceberries (aka saskatoon berries)

  1. Tina says:

    I wholly encourage foraging, and am proud that there is an Ontario site to help find saskatoon trees… here in Manitoba all I have to do is drive to the lake 10 minutes away and there’s more saskatoons than I can reasonably pick in a day! I only picked from 2 trees and had enough for 2 pies (around 8 cups).

  2. When I lived in Oakville, we would walk the trails to forage our serviceberries – the Town of Oakville had planted these bushes everywhere! I remember going out every evening with a large bucket and picking it full, and it seemed as though we had hardly made a dent. It was great to see others out there doing the same thing.

    We used to just eat them, or I would make a jam out of them, but this recipe looks great! I don’t live in Oakville any longer, so have to find some saskatoon berries where I live now to forage. :) Or I’ll just make it with other berries…

  3. […] Foraging for Serviceberries  […]

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