Juneberry Grower Survey: Spring 2014

If you are growing juneberries for sale anywhere in the US, we would like to know.  Cornell University Cooperative Extension is conducting a grower survey to gather new information about who is growing what varieties.

The survey is an online survey with short-answer questions.  It should take you less than 10 minutes to complete.  Thank you for your time and efforts!

Take the 2014 Juneberry Grower Survey

WHAT IS A JUNEBERRY??



The juneberry (known commonly elsewhere as a “saskatoon berry”) is a dark-colored fruit that is grown on the Canadian prairies for wholesale processing, with some fresh market and you-pick sales. The species of commercial interest is Amelanchier alnifolia, a close cousin of our Eastern serviceberry (Amelanchier canadensis), which is found as a tall shrub in our local forests.

The flavor of the fruit resembles dark cherry or raisin, with a hint of almond in the tiny, soft seed. Not only are they flavorful, they are nutrient-dense, with high levels of protein, calcium, iron, and antioxidants.


Juneberries are not yet widely known in the Northeast U.S. Even though they look much like blueberries, they are more closely related to cherries and plums. This project is focused on bringing this interesting new crop to small farms, berry growers, and home gardeners in New York and the Northeast US.

There are very few farms in the Northeast that have been growing juneberries for you-pick or farm market sale.  Fortunately, more than 20 farms in the Finger Lakes and Central New York have new juneberry bushes in the ground, but it will take another year or two before they are fully productive.

What can I do with juneberries?

Just about everyone who has tried fresh-picked juneberries likes them fresh from the farm - no need to add sugar or anything else to improve the flavor.   In addition to fresh out-of-hand eating, juneberries are an easy and nutritious addition to anything you would want fruit in, including muffins, breads, salads, jams, preserves, granola, and pies.  They are great on your breakfast cereal or oatmeal, baked into a fruit crisp or warmed in pancakes.  Anything you do with fruit in your life, you can do with juneberries.

Culinary tips:
  • Juneberries pair very well with medium chocolate or coffee-flavored foods.

  • Dried juneberries are soft and chewy if they are first treated in a sugar solution before dehydrating.   Dissolve 2 cups of sugar into 2 cups of water to make a heavy syrup.  Add 2 cups of fresh or frozen juneberries to this heavy syrup and refrigerate for 72 hours.  Drain the berries for dehydrating and preserve the ruby-colored juice as a sweet beverage base.  Dehydrate the sugar-treated berries 8 hours at 135 degrees F.

  • Fresh juneberries can be frozen easily on a cookie sheet, and then transferred to a freezer-ready container as individual berries.  Thaw for 1 day in the refrigerator and the quality will be similar to fresh juneberries – they do not disintegrate like other fruits after freezing.

  • Juneberry sauce (for ice cream or cheesecake): Combine 1 cup of juneberries, ½ cup water, ½ cup sugar, and 1 tbsp lemon juice, plus 2 tbsp cornstarch in a small saucepan and stir while heating.  As the berries break up in the heat, they will make a thick berry sauce.
 

Juneberry nutrition

Juneberries / saskatoons are a fruit native to North America, grown in central Canada, but relatively unknown in the Northeast.

Juneberries are an excellent source of iron – each serving provides about 23% RDA for iron (almost twice as much iron as blueberries)

Juneberries contain high levels of phenolic compounds, particularly anthocyanins.

A typical juneberry is 18 % sugar, and about 80% water.

Juneberries have a lower moisture content than blueberries, so there are slightly higher levels of caloric value, proteins, carbohydrates and lipids in them.

For the athletic type, juneberries contain relatively large amounts of potassium (twice as much as blueberries); also, large amounts of  magnesium and phosphorous.

Juneberries have about as much vitamin C, thiamin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6, folate, vitamin A and vitamin E as blueberries, and also trace amounts of biotin.

Juneberries have a flavor more reminiscent of dark cherries due to the presence of benzaldehyde, a natural volatile compound.

Juneberries were consumed and preserved by native North Americans for nutrition and medicinal uses.  Like other native fruits, they provided important vitamins and minerals to European settlers in North America, preventing deficiency diseases such as scurvy.

Juneberry / Saskatoon production manual - recommended!

If you are getting into growing juneberries / saskatoons, THE best resource is Growing Saskatoons - A Manual For Orchardists.  Written by Richard G. St-Pierre, this is an outstanding source of information about small-scale production of juneberries / saskatoons.  It is a very complete manual, available on-line as individual chapters.

LINK: Growing Saskatoons - A Manual For Orchardists