The Cross-Border Pie: Serviceberries in Service!

Serviceberry Pie 23

Teedz requested a pie when we eventually made it across the border to visit her and Tego and Ando in NYC. And you guys remember that I have all those serviceberries I stole gathered from the neighbourhood. So I made a serviceberry/blueberry pie for the road. Actually, I made two, and the pictures will reflect that, but the recipe below is just for one.

First, I made the pastry dough, using the beloved food processor method. Now that I’ve found a technique that yields consistent results I am so reluctant to try anything else. Anyway, you can find the recipe and process way back here. I pulsed up the dough, split it in two, wrapped it up, and chucked it in the fridge overnight to do whatever it is that pie crust does overnight in the fridge. Dance party maybe?

Serviceberry Pie 1

So, get your dough rolled out into tops and bottoms and preheat your oven to 450°F. Beat up 1 egg in a wee dish.

Serviceberry Pie 7

Use said egg as a wash in the bottom of your pie. You want to do this so the berries don’t make the sucker soggy.

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Now, grate the zest of a lemon and juice it as well.

Serviceberry Pie 2

Juicy juicy. Set that aside for a second.

Serviceberry Pie 4

I had a peanut gallery of people installing eavestroughs while I was doing this.

Serviceberry Pie 3

Grab your serviceberries that you have handily frozen. You want them to defrost only enough that the berries separate from each other easily.

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I also used some fresh blueberries I had on hand. Essentially you’ll need 5 cups frozen berries (or combo-fresh, but don’t tell).

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Pitch the berries into a bowl with your lemon zest and juice, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, 3-4 tablespoons cornstarch (mine was a little runny so I suggest even a little more cornstarch than this), and 2 tablespoons melted butter.

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Give that a sound stirring and get ready to fill your pie. Are you excited? I’m excited.

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For a 9″ pie you’ll find the berries definitely come out quite high once you shove them into the crust. I patted mine down a bit, but don’t fret too much – they will shrink as they cook.

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Slam the top of your crust down and seal the edges (repair any cracks with leftover dough trimmings).

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Cut some vent holes in the top.

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“Nooo, don’t put me in the oven, PLEASE!”

Slather that with some more egg.

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“Heeeeeelp meeeeeee …”

Bung that in the oven for precisely 10 minutes, then turn the heat down to 350°F and bake for another 45 minutes, until it’s all bubbly and a nice golden brown. Let it cool completely before reheating or eating cold.

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And, as a trick I learned from Mrs. Nice, take your leftover dough trimmings, brush them with melted butter, sprinkle with cinnamon and brown sugar, and bake for 10-15 minutes until crisp and golden.

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These are handy treats for those young ones (or not so young ones) who can’t wait until dessert for the whole pie.

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Should I or Shouldn’t I? What Say You?

Service Berries 1

These are what we in Ontario call serviceberries.  You might know them in other parts of Canada as Saskatoon berries.  A member of the rose family, they grow on medium-sized shrubs or trees, and have a consistency not unlike a blueberry.  They’re a major ingredient in the Northern staple of pemmican.  And they’re delicious.

Service Berries 2

The housing developer in my neighbourhood seemed to like them as well, because you’ll find them planted in the front yard of every third or fourth house, and the various little parks throughout the development are scattered with them.  There are no less than six fully mature serviceberry trees in the main central park, and each one is absolutely loaded with nearly ripe berries.

Service Berries 3

My parents have a serviceberry tree, but every year the birds get to the fruit before my dad can pick it all.  For some reason that I don’t understand, the birds in my neighbourhood have not discovered these things yet, and they’re all getting nice and ripe (in fact, by the time this is posted they’ll be damned-near perfect).  I don’t think the people here have discovered them yet, either.  I think it has something to do with the fact that serviceberries are not sold commercially here and so may be hard to recognize as edible.

Service Berries 4

So the gist of it is this: there are all these lovely fruits dying to be put in pies and jams (and some nifty Northern recipes I have lying around), and nobody is taking them.  I would never pick the berries out of people’s yards, but the ones on City property I’m feeling more ambiguous about.  So I thought I’d ask you, in Ali Does It’s first ever poll: should I pick them or should I leave them be?


Due to the overwhelmingly “for it” responses I have received, I started bringing a little baggie with me on dog walks and picked some more while Gren rested under the trees.  This morning I discovered that the birds had finally figured out where all the good stuff was and there were only three trees left with any berries still attached (the rest will be gone by tomorrow, I guarantee it).  I went back out without the dog and now have a little over 3 1/2 lbs of berries in my freezer.  Stay tuned for serviceberry deliciousness to come!

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