This juneberry jam is a sweet, easy way to preserve serviceberries this spring.
Backstory: I went foraging.
Ok. Maybe foraging is a stretch. Does plucking berries from a tree across the street count as foraging?
That’s what I did. And came back with a small basket of these juneberries, AKA serviceberries. They look like a maroon-colored blueberry and the darker ones taste a little like them. But unlike blueberries, juneberries have a seed. It’s large in proportion to the fruit but soft. Not sure if you’re supposed to actually eat it. I’ve been eating the seeds since I discovered the berries last year and I seem to be OK.
What are juneberries?
Juneberries, are better known as serviceberres or Saskatoon berries. They are a small maroon to deep purple colored fruit that grows on shrubs or trees. Juneberries are sweet with an edible seed inside. They can be eaten fresh, dried and used like raisins, or cooked into jams or other desserts.
How to pick juneberries
You might be walking by these delicious berries each day. Juneberries ripen as early as May here in the South to July in northern areas like Michigan and in the fall in places further north, namely Alaska. To harvest them, simply pick the fruit from the tree when it reaches a dark maroon color. Just like blueberries, select berries that are smooth and plump. Serviceberries will continue to ripen (and sweeten) after being picked so keep that in mind when it comes to timing. But don’t wait too long. Once the berries start to ripen on the trees, the birds swoop in for their fill and most of the berries will be gone in a couple of days.
I found this Saskatoon Berry Institute article on the nutrition benefits of juneberries informative. Because this is a native, wild fruit, nutrition information and recipes are limited.
How to clean and store serviceberries
Treat juneberries just like blueberries. Rinse the berries in cool water. Spread on a clean dish towel and gently roll across to dry the berries completely. Store clean, dry berries in the refrigerator up to 1 week or freeze them right away. To do this, spread the berries in a single layer on a cookie sheet then store in a freezer safe bag or another sealed container.
I have zero patience and upper body strength so I and stopped picking after about 1½ cups… just enough to make jam. That little batch of berries gave me a week’s worth of jam!
How to make juneberry jam
Making juneberry jam is easy. You only need a couple of ingredients – juneberries and sugar. I’m using turbinado sugar but I’m sure any sweetener will work for this refrigerator jam. You’ll also need a tiny bit of water to get things going.
Once the jam is cooked, I encourage you to take the easy route. Let the jam cool and put it away in jars in the refrigerator. If you’re feeling more adventurous, you can follow the procedures provided by the National Center for Home Food Preservation to make the jam shelf stable.
My recipe below is for a refrigerator jam only. I have not tested it for shelf stability. If you go that route, you might need to add lemon juice, extra sugar, or pectin to make it safe.
My peach refrigerator jam has been wildly popular for my little blog. I will be making it along with other jams this summer!
How to use juneberry jam
Put it in jars, close with a lid and refrigerate for a week or so. Try the jam swirled into yogurt or spread on toast, stacked on crackers with cheese, or as a sweet sandwich spread.
This one has a lovely chunky texture so you can really taste and appreciate the berries. Try it out and let me know how it goes!
Easy Juneberry Jam
- 1 ½ cups juneberries or serviceberries
- 2 tablespoon cane sugar
- 1 tablespoon water
- Combine the juneberries and sugar in a small saucepan with about a tablespoon of water.
- Cook uncovered over medium-high heat 15 minutes until the berries pop (break open). Mash a few with the back of a spoon. Continue to cook until the syrup in the jam thickens.
- Let cool. Pour the jam into two ¼ cup mason jars. Close the lids and refrigerate for up to a week.
I’ve never had the ability to taste a juneberry, but they look so good! I bet this jam would be great for the blueberries I have in my fridge right now!
I only discovered juneberries last year but they are fun to look forward to. Blueberries would definitely work here!
I never heard of juneberry! Looks and sound so delicious! I have to find something similar here ♥
That was me last year. And it was so fun to discover them right outside my door! Hope you find something as delicious near you.
I’ve never had juneberries before! This looks so yummy!
The jam is tasty! And it’s a fun treat this time of year.
Annie @ Annie's Noms
I’ve never heard of a juneberry before!! Although I’m now thinking I’ve probably seen them and not known it. They’re gorgeous and I need to find some and make your delicious jam!
You probably have. I had no idea they were edible until I noticed my neighbors flocking to the trees last year. Now I look forward to the short season to enjoy these unique little gems!
I don’t think I’ve ever eaten juneberries. I must look out for them but they may not grow here in Italy! This jam looks beautiful! Am going to check out your peach jam too as peaches are one of my favourite summer fruits!
I’d be curious to know if they grown in Italy too. They are native to North America. Juneberries make a gorgeous jam but I have to say my peach jam is an all time favorite.
Do you need to seed the berries before making the jam? Don’t want any broken teeth!
Everyone’s dental situation is different so use your own discretion. You can certainly remove the seeds if you feel more comfortable. An option is to press the cooked jam through a sieve as you might with a raspberry jam. The jam’s texture will end up being smoother that way too.
I picked serviceberries today – virtually had to beat off the birds wih a stick! The seeds were tiny – smaller than raspberry seeds. Sorry for the confusion, I thought they were going to be large seeds, like half the size of the berry, that you would break a tooth on. Set beautifully and is delicious!
So glad to hear it worked out, Dave! I now look forward to making this jam every year. And yes. Once the birds discover them, they will pick the tree clean without in a couple days. Ours were done in May!
Never heard of Juneberries before but saw them in a farmers market and bought some. Just eating them plain- they were just “ ok” but made your jam and wow— delicious!! The only thing I added was a little fresh lemon juice. This jam thickens up amazingly well. Thank you for this easy recipe Marisa!—- from Sharon
My pleasure, Sharon! I’m so glad it worked out for you. Our juneberries are all done for the year so I have to taste them vicariously through the comments 🙂
My neighbor gave me some jam she made and it was very good. Only trouble is I am not suppose to eat seeds. Is there an easy way to extract the seeds? I have two serviceberries in my yard and I made pancakes with them w/a syrup. Very good. Barb
The seeds in this jam are rather large. You could likely strain them out using a sieve. I think it would be rather tedious though. Sorry I’m not sure about an easier way to do it.
I just picked a strainer full and sei Ed them before reading your Jan recipe. Cooking the juice now. I couldn’t believe the amount of natural pectins in the berries. I have two sidewalk trees full of them.
We discovered serviceberries this year and are now making our second batch. Yes, you can preserve and seal them like any preserves for a stable shelf life.
Also we were worried the jam might not set as our berries were quite ripe so we used lemon juice and the zest of one lemon for every 4-5 cups of fruit. Then added a small amount of fresh nutmeg. Really enhanced the flavor!
About the seeds. We ran about half the partially cooked batch through a food mill which captured the seeds. Then returned the milled juice to the batch and returned to boiling and desired consistency.
I walked by this tree every day in last 4 years… today I tried the fruit for a first time … wow , wow, wow … so delicious . Now I know why my chickens love to hang out by this tree… from now I’m not sharing it with birds lol
I have 3 serviceberry trees my yard and started eating them last year in my oatmeal. The berries are loaded this year and tried your receipe. Very tasty on ice cream. I made a second batch and add 1/2 c of finely chopped strawberries I picked yesterday. Also very tasty on ice cream or toast.
I have juneberries in my backyard and i learned that they go bad fast if you dont use them quick enough so here i am trying this recipe.