Move Over, Euell Gibbons

Actually, if you know anything about Euell Gibbons, the title of this post might seem a bit uppity. Anyone my age probably remembers him from his appearances on the Grape Nuts commercials of the 1970’s. Gibbons actually was a respected and knowledgeable outdoorsman and teacher of wild-food foraging, who authored Stalking the Wild Asparagus. But, since I foraged a fruit that I’ll bet few of you have eaten, I’m feeling a little extra proud of my crunchygranolalike skills today.

You might call them serviceberries, or saskatoons, or juneberries, but their botanical name is Amelanchier.

Well, perhaps picking fruit off trees in your backyard might not actually qualify as foraging, but when it is something that few people eat, it feels that way.  I usually lose the berries to the birds and squirrels, but I am home during the day now, and the tree actually seems to be rewarding me for that–it’s an especially heavy crop this year.

Whatever you want to call them–I choose ‘serviceberries’–they are far from the tart, chewy berries that you might expect to find on a native tree. I have a single-stem specimen of what is usually a multi-trunked small tree or large shrub. I can not tell you what cultivar of Amelanchier arborea I have; it was a bargain tree I bought from one of the local government sponsored tree planting programs. The berries are like a small blueberry in both texture and sweetness.

I haven’t decided what to do with my serviceberries yet. It’s always fun to serve things like this to friends who have never tasted them before. Maybe I’ll surprise someone with a serviceberry dessert. Mr. Gibbons might suggest I serve them with wild hickory nuts. Grape Nuts would be less work, I think.


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