Monday, July 30, 2012


The serviceberry bushes are beautiful in the spring, especially along the Clearwater River. The trees bloom white and seem to bring an ethereal glow to the landscape. We see quite a lot of serviceberry along the Clearwater corridor and on the Gilbert Grade as well. I even thought I saw it here at the farm. Trouble is – I recognize it at a distance and only when it’s in bloom. So – my quest has been to find serviceberry on the property.

We identified a stand of Black Hawthorn trees on the lane and then a shrub we called “bearberry.” I don’t remember our reasoning on the bearberry, but the more I read about bearberries, the less secure I was in that identification.  I mean, this is not an arctic area and the berries were purple, not red. You know – just little clues like that. Nevertheless, we kept calling them bearberries.

Saturday morning Nellie and I went down the lane to pick the bearberries. Nellie is an eager berry picker, and she liked these berries, standing ever so close to me so as to pick up any I happened to drop. She eats them noisily – licking her lips and smacking.

We came back to the house with six cups of berries, a respectable amount. But in searching the net for a jelly recipe, it occurred to me that these were serviceberries, and I found pictures that proved it – the flower, the leaves, and the berry clusters – purple berries, like blueberries. “These are serviceberries!” I exclaimed to myself. “Ahhhhhhhhhh.”

So, I had a little serviceberry fest. First Nellie and I visited another serviceberry bush I knew about, behind the house where the elderberry bushes are, but sitting at the edge of the field in the hot sun, those berries were already dry not to mention almost inaccessible. I had enough berries to make juice anyway. And then, to state the afternoon’s activity in simple terms, I made serviceberry jelly – five jars, sealed and ready to store on a shelf. Another new/old flavor to savor.

I’ll bet we can find more serviceberry here, and in fact, we’ve already found a bush on Dobson Road. Serviceberries are also called juneberries. Next year I’ll watch for them sooner – beginning around the Fourth of July.

And speaking of berries – aren’t those thimbleberry bushes over there?

Now is the time to be careful when exploring, though. On my way to the composter last evening, I came across a rattlesnake. My approach startled it and it raised its head but didn’t coil. I ran to the house for Mike, but in the seconds I was gone, it disappeared into the tall grass. KW


drMolly, the BeanQueen said...

Glad you "survived" the snake. It sounds like your jelly will be good. I just made 15 jars of berry jam yesterday - assorted raspberry, strawberry & mixed berries. It's that time of year.

Chris said...

You are such a good girl!! I make jam, much easier than jelly! Jars of jelly are the most beautiful though--the sort of glow.

Here at the resort, Dan is painting and I'm doing chores--like finishing the laundry and getting the kitchen put back together after the final coat of ceiling paint. Yay!!

Leah said...

I can also id a tree from a distance, but not up close. The Bradford Pear is the first tree with blossoms around here. If I were to meet one up close later in the year, I wouldn't have a clue what it was!

Kathy said...

Yes, jam is easier, but some berries don't lend themselves to jam - like elderberries and serviceberries. My family even prefers the seeds removed from raspberries. However, I freeze the raspberries for use in desserts.

Chris -- So you're busy with chores? I'm waiting to see what's on your needles!

Leah -- Sounds like we I-D the phenomenon of the bloom and not the tree. The Bradford Pear -- Is that an ornamental pear? Lewiston's Main Street is lined with ornamental pear trees.

Leah said...

From the little I know about Bradford Pear trees, they are indeed ornamental and often called "street trees." They are in the median of a busy street nearby and flower as early as February. Show offs!

Speaking of jams & jellies makes me thing of County Fairs. Have any of you entered homemade jams in the County Fair? Or entered sewing projects, prize vegetables, etc.

Hallie said...

The fair! What a good idea! I have not ever entered the fair, but maybe we should. Like Dr. Molly, we did a mixed berry concoction when we were at the farm. I think it might have been an award winner. If I'm not mistaken, I think it was raspberry, wild black raspberry, thimble berry, and strawberry. YUM! We're counting down to black berry pickin' time!

Nick said...

How did the jelly end up tasting?

I tried one of the berries when we were at the farm for the celebration. It wasn't especially flavorful, but I imagine some sugar would help with that.

Kathy said...

We think differently about the fair than we used to, I believe. The old-time concept was to "improve" the fair by making the best product you could. I'll think about it . . .

I had a windfall in jars today. A friend gave me about three dozen, so I'm in business again! This dear one is so conservative. It hurt her to hear that we had actually bought jars.

Nick -- Mike seems to like the jelly which is an indicator that it's tasty. It isn't as strong as the elderberry, which some people think is too strong. But I thought of you when I saw a recipe for "spiced serviceberry syrup.

Oh -- and you were right about the gooseberries. They weren't ripe. They are turning dark now and still clinging to the bush.

Well,I should just write another post about berries.