Hooray! It’s Saskatoon berry season in Leelanau County! For those of you who are unfamiliar with these yummy berries, Saskatoons are a deep purple, nutrient dense fruit resembling a blueberry. They are considered a “Super Fruit” due to their high levels of antioxidants, protein, fat, fiber, calcium, magnesium, manganese, barium, and aluminum which are superior to most other small super fruits - including the blueberry. They are also incredibly delicious. As a member of the Amelanchier alnifolia family - Saskatoons are a relative of the apple. Their even sweetness and slightly taut skin is faintly remincisent of a perfectly ripe apple, and some people consider them a tiny pome.
We love using Saskatoons at the Riverside Inn becuase of their incredible versitility. We use them in sauces over pork loin and duck breast because the berries not only provide great flavor, but retain their shape when cooked, contributing to a beatiful presentation. We also use them in compotes to accompany our charcuterie, in sorbets, over Idyll Farms cheesecake, in pancakes, and of course fresh in our salads.
Our very favorite source for high quality Saskatoon berries in Northern Michigan is Cross Farms in Northport. Rick and Karen Cross first became acquainted with wild Saskatoons while living in Alaska. When they moved to Michigan they bought an old cherry farm in Northport with the intention of growing cultivated saskatoons and spent 5 years rehabbing the soil which had been exhausted of its nutrients after years of cherry production. In 2007 they planted their first Saskatoon berries – bare root plants of the Northline variety, which they obtained from a Saskatoon propagator in Alberta, Canada.
Today, Cross Farms Saskatoons are thriving! Rick and Karen supply many area restaurants and grocery stores with fresh Saskatoon berries, and if you’re lucky, you may find Karen at some of the area farmers markets too. Cross Farms also offers daily U-Pick from 8am to 4pm now through the 29th. After harvest, frozen Sasaktoons are available by the pound.
For more information about Cross Farm Saskatoons, follow them on Facebook, or write Karen at Karen@Cross-Farms.com and let her know you would like to receive Saskatoon updates from Cross Farms.
*Cross Farms is environmentally verified by the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (www.maep.org) and successfully completed the Safe Food Risk Assessment by the Michigan Department of Agriculture.