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We spend exactly one full day in July making a foraging trip in hopes of bringing home at least 5 gallons of serviceberries every year. We’ll eat as many fresh that week as we can. They don’t stay good long, so we have to preserve them as quickly as possible.
We do this by making serviceberry raisins, serviceberry fruit leathers, and freezing them. If time permits, we make serviceberry juice and can it up as well.
Sometime during the winter, when I’m trying to empty my freezer, I’ll pull them out and get to canning other things like pie filling, jams, and today, serviceberry syrup.
This gives me more freezer space, and fills those pantry shelves that have been emptying out over our cold winter.
Food Supplies Needed
You will need:
- 2 Quarts of serviceberries
- 2 Cups water
- 1 Tablespoon grated lemon peel
- 3 Cups sugar
- 4 Cups water (in addition to the 2 already listed)
- 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
Cooking & Canning Items Needed
Items you’ll need:
- Large pot
- Canning tools (this is the set I use)
- Pint jars, lids, and rings
- Water bath canner
- Measuring cups
- Long wooden spoon & ladle
- Vitamix or hand blender
- Fine strainer or cheesecloth
- Candy thermometer
- Something to mash berries
Preparing For Canning
I measure the serviceberries in a wide mouth quart jar. I pour them right out of their freezer bags into the jars, filling them all the way to the top.
I happen to have been gifted some fresh lemons, but if you haven’t, you can use premeasured peel that was grated and froze when you did have lemons. If you are using a fresh lemon, be sure to wash and rinse it really well before grating it.
While your jars, lids, and rings are being prepared, clean all your other equipment, and have it ready before moving on. Also prepare your water bath canner.
Start By Making Juice
Combine serviceberries, 2 cups water, and lemon peel in a large pot and cook over medium heat. Carefully crush the berries. (Don’t be dumb and wear a white shirt while you do this like I did today. Ahem…)
Since I begin with frozen berries, I like to set them on the stove on medium heat (or on the elevated rack of my wood stove). I let them slowly thaw rather than just putting them directly on high heat. I probably wouldn’t care if I did this from room temperature berries.
Once the berries are thawed, I put my potato masher in and gently try to mash as many as I can. Give them a good stir, and then turn up the heat. Once I notice them start to boil, I stir them again, and then turn them down to simmer for 5-10 minutes.
Strain these over a large collecting bowl. You can use a couple layers of dampened cheese cloth (which has always worked well for me in the past), or you can use a fine mesh strainer–which is what I did today.
Depending on how you are straining your juice, squeeze or smoosh all the juice out.
(Don’t waste these berries! I’ll show you what I do with them—seeds and all—shortly. Stay tuned!)
Using the same deep pot you boiled your serviceberries in, combine sugar with 4 cups of water and stir. Boil this to 230° (adjusting for altitude). New canners: I know it can be tempting to skip checking the temperature, but I promise this step is really important—don’t skip it!
Stir to make sure your syrup isn’t burning to the bottom of your pan, or it isn’t boiling over. Carefully add your serviceberry juice to your syrup and bring it to a boil again. Boil for an additional 5 minutes.
Once you’ve turned your serviceberry syrup off, or removed it from it’s heat source, stir the lemon juice in.
Using a funnel and ladle, scoop your syrup into your hot prepared jars, leaving ¼ inch headspace. Carefully clean the rims with a clean cloth. (Don’t neglect to wipe the rims, or it’s highly likely you’ll have missed seals.)
Place your lid (or two piece Tattler reusable lids like I use) on the top and place your prepared ring on.
Process Serviceberry Syrup By Water Bath
Use the grabber to place each jar carefully into your prepared water bath canner and bring to a rolling boil. (Be sure to use your water bath canner according to manufacturer’s instructions. Mine calls for 2 inches of water to cover the tops of the jars.)
Process for 10 minutes plus your adjustment for altitude once you reach a boil.
Altitude Increase Processing Time
1001-3000 ft 5 minutes
3001-6000 10 minutes
6001-8000 15 minutes
8001-10000 20 minutes
At just under 6000 feet in altitude, I time mine for 20 minutes.
After You’ve Processed Serviceberry Syrup
Once your time is up, turn your heat off and remove the lid from your canner. Let your jars set as they are for awhile.
After 20 minutes, I pull mine out with the jar lifters and carefully set them on a towel on the counter, making sure there is at least an inch of space all the way around them.
Since I use the Tattler lids, I use 2 oven mitts to tighten the rings once they are sitting on the counter.
Let your jars set overnight. Carefully check your seals in the morning and clean your jars and rings. Any jars that didn’t seal can be processed again, or put in the refrigerator and used within the week.
This recipe makes 2 pints, plus one half pint of serviceberry syrup. The half pint is not processed, but put right into our immediate menu plans. (I see pancakes in our near future.)
*Disclosure: I cannot take responsibility for your skill. Just like I am the only one responsible for the foods I prepare for my family, you are the only one responsible for the foods you prepare for your family. It is very important that you follow safety standards at all times. I follow the guidelines outlined in my Ball Blue Book, and highly suggest you do too. This post is not intended to teach you how to water bath. There are other things not mentioned here that are important for you to know if you are just learning. I also highly suggest having a well-seasoned canning friend with you to help you learn the ropes, or take classes. My friend Melissa teaches classes via videos—you should look into these if you are new to canning. (She also teaches you to use a pressure canner.)*
If you forage for serviceberries, what other ways are you preserving them?