From the look of all the little green berries around my yard starting to have a blush of pink, it should be a good year for saskatoons. Not only do these berries pack a powerful health and flavour punch, they are extremely versatile and today they are featured in a pie.
Sarah Cromer had requested a saskatoon pie recipe that included both tapioca and almond extract. Thanks to Lil Monchka for her recipe, and to Florence Bouchard and Linda Snider of Glenboro.
Cromer had also asked if anyone knew where she could purchase frozen saskatoons any time of the year. I do not know if they are sold anywhere in Winnipeg, but readers let me know about a couple of places outside of the city. Thanks to Fern Krause, who recommended Break-A-Way Farms in Oakville, near Newton, (204) 428-3801. Thanks also to Philip Ronald of Riverbend Orchards in Portage la Prairie, who let me know they still have frozen berries available from last year's harvest. They can be reached at (204) 870-1140.
Another seasonal item Cromer asked about purchasing frozen is rhubarb, and this is readily available at major grocery stores where the frozen fruit is located. Rhubarb also happens to be popular for pies (and coincidentally pairs well with saskatoons), and the following recipe is courtesy of Wilma De Vos. She writes that it has been in her family for many years, and "has been a real hit, even with people who thought they hated rhubarb."
1 litre (4 cups) saskatoons
160 ml (2/3 cup) sugar
45 ml (3 tbsp) minute tapioca
2 ml (1/2 tsp) cinnamon
1 ml (1/4 tsp) nutmeg
2 ml (1/2 tsp) almond extract
10 ml (2 tsp) lemon juice
Pastry for top and bottom crust
Mix saskatoons, sugar, minute tapioca and spices together. Stir in almond extract and lemon juice.
Line pie dish with pastry and spread filling in shell. Cover with top crust and seal. Cut small slits or pattern in top to let steam escape.
Bake in preheated 220 C (425 F) oven for 12 minutes. Reduce heat to 175 C (350 F) and bake approximately 35 to 40 minutes longer until done.
Taste Tester Notes: Saskatoon berries have a unique flavour, with a hint of almond that is played up by the extract in this delicious combination. You can use fresh berries when in season or frozen berries (do not thaw) equally well. As there is only a small amount of lemon juice, almond extract and spices, try to sprinkle as evenly over the berries as you can before mixing in. This makes enough filling for a 22 cm (9-inch) pie. Crust will be golden brown and fruit starting to bubble up when done.
1 litre (4 cups) chopped rhubarb (fresh or frozen)
250 ml (1 cup) regular sour cream
375 ml (1 1/2 cups) sugar
80 ml (1/3 cup) flour
250 ml (1 cup) flour
250 ml (1 cup) brown sugar
125 ml (1/2 cup) butter
Unbaked pie shell
If using frozen rhubarb, let thaw a little just to separate it. Mix filling ingredients together and put in an unbaked pie shell.
Make a crumb mixture of topping ingredients. Sprinkle on the topping.
Bake at 230 C (450 F) for 10 minutes, then at 175 C (350 F) for 40 minutes.
Taste Tester Notes: I usually mix rhubarb with another fruit, but this makes a good, creamy filling on its own. There is a generous amount of topping and you could make half the amount if you like (I would make half of it, as the topping was a bit sweet for my taste, but other samplers liked it that way). I used a 220 C (425 F) oven for the initial baking as I did not want the topping to over brown. If your topping is browning too quickly, you can cover loosely with a piece of aluminum foil. Use a 25 cm (10-inch) deep-dish pie pan for this recipe.