The juneberry, or saskatoon berry, is a tasty and nutritious berry native to North America. There are two main species: 1) the high-yielding species used as a crop is Amelanchier alnifolia, and 2) the wild shrub or tree found in the Eastern US is Amelanchier canadensis.

Sometimes confused with blueberries, juneberries taste somewhat different. The flavor of the fruit is similar to sweet black cherries or a mild blackberry, with a hint of almond in the tiny, soft seed. Juneberries are truly nutrient-dense, with high levels of protein, calcium, iron, and antioxidants. Perfect for the athlete in you!

Juneberries are becoming widely known in the Northeast U.S. and Great Lakes region.  We are looking forward to a good season after the bitter winter of 2013-2014 (the juneberry crop thrives in cold, dry weather).  Fresh juneberry harvest season starts in late June and ends in early July in most of the Northern US.

This project is focused on bringing this interesting new crop to small farms, berry growers, home gardeners, foodies, chefs, and anyone interested in berries.

There are now several dozen small farms in the Northeast that are growing juneberries for you-picking, farm markets, and processing.  As of 2014, the availability of juneberries will be limited but many more will be coming into production in 2015 and 2016.

Juneberries in Upstate NY  Learn about hand-harvesting and some varieties at G and S Orchards in Walworth, NY.

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