This juneberry jam is a sweet, easy way to preserve serviceberries this spring.
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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!
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Easy Juneberry Jam
- 1 ½ cups juneberries or serviceberries
- 2 tbsp cane sugar
- 1 tbsp 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 1/4 cup mason jars. Close the lids and refrigerate for up to a week.