So this is a fun time of year for us … picking strawberries, discovering serviceberries (or Juneberries), and teaching Brendan how to pick ripe blackberries in the yard. I’m going to make some strawberry-serviceberry jam today (photos to come), and am delighted to finally figure out what our Mystery Tree in the backyard is.
We picked approximately 5.5 pounds of strawberries last week, which after munching on the way home, came to just shy of 5.5 CUPS of sliced berries for jam-making. Umm… yeah. They are yummy, without question. The serviceberry discovery was quite fortuitous, because jam-making is a precision-thing and I was just shy of the correct volume of strawberries.
Serviceberries are like red blueberries – they grown on taller trees (not bushes) and are a favourite of robins everywhere. In fact, there was quite a bit of verbal scolding from the robins in our yard when we were picking them. 😉
One of the canning-groups I’m a part of was discussing serviceberries and I had the good sense to Google it. I recognized the trunk, leaves, and general appearance of The Mystery Tree in the images.
This tree has leaves like an apple tree, and blossoms beautifully every spring. Its trunk is far from an apple tree, however, and it made me wonder if it was some variant of a crabapple tree. The only thing I never saw was the telltale signs of crabapples – those fruits fall off and become nasty in the ground and around the base of the tree pretty quickly.
The trunk is not one solid trunk, but what appears to be an overgrowth of small trunks, and despite my attempts to keep the sucker-growth to a minimum, it seems to produce a plethora of them on a regular basis.
So Brendan & I went out to pick serviceberries – although he ate more than he picked. My fingers were stained a lovely shade of purple for the next day or so – a nice reminder of the bounty that’s in our own backyard.
Yesterday, I was mowing and realized the blackberry canes were bearing fruit again. I thought I remembered it later in the season last year, but last summer was such a stressful time for me that I dare not trust my memory on berry-ripening timeframes. 😐
Many are far from ripe, as the ones in this photo, but there are some that are hidden in low and hard-to-reach places that are black as night. Ripe, juicy, and delicious – Brendan was delighted when he realized that he could come to the back of the property and pick a snack, if he so desired.
I don’t think I’ll be able to pick enough blackberries to make jam – and I really dislike blackberry and raspberry seeds in jam. I made a seedless blackberry jam when I was pregnant with Brendan, some 7.5 years ago and it was a pain. So I think I’ll leave that be. But it’s fun to teach my kid how to enjoy the nature that’s around us and to delight in the sweet treats that grow in our own yard.