Thursday, 18 July 2013

Club Day. The Nature Version.

When we awoke this morning, things looked a little on the grey side.  I hurried over to the weather network and received a prediction that there would be rain in the morning - thundershowers, in fact.  Hmmm...that forecast wasn't what Nature Club called for this morning.  I headed over to Environment Canada's website, where they predicted rain in the afternoon.  Much better news!  And within ten minutes of reading that news, the skies did clear up and the sun was shining down upon us.  It was like an omen telling me to simply trust the latter prediction.

Now that it's summer and our Nature Clubbers are available morning or afternoon (or evening too, I suppose), we're soaking up the opportunity to be outside before our little part of the planet heats up too much.  I learned from last year's summer club days that the beautiful little people in our Nature Club tended to wilt under the sun's hot, hot rays.  We also have much more time to do an activity and have free time, so we can plan more elaborate outings.  Today's outing took us to a little berry patch just outside the city limits to pick some saskatoons.

Yes, our family has already picked many saskatoons this season.  Soon my freezer will be full and I'll be wondering where I can store the blueberries that will come in the next couple of weeks.  But the children who joined us today aren't as familiar with this humble berry, being from another province where they don't grow.  So what better way to learn about local, seasonal, good foods, diversity, and the joys of simply being outdoors than to experience it?

For those of you who aren't familiar with saskatoons, they look similar to blueberries but have a taste that is all their own.  They have a small seed inside them and while the seed is quite fibrous, it is edible.  Here are a few of the ways we enjoy saskatoons...

   ~ saskatoon berry muffins
   ~ mix fresh or frozen saskatoons with yogurt, cereal, oatmeal or granola
   ~ saskatoon crisp or crumble
   ~ dropped into pancake batter, or served on top of freshly cooked pancakes
   ~ saskatoon berry jam
   ~ saskatoon berry syrup (we will be mixing our syrup with club soda, as an alternative to pop.  A recipe for berry syrup is in The Homemade Pantry).
   ~ in fruit smoothies (but make sure there is a lot of liquid in your smoothie, as the saskatoons tend to absorb liquid and thicken the drink considerably
   ~ fruit popsicles
   ~ pie
   ~ just eaten by the handful!

The only thing I do not do with our saskatoon berries is dry them or make fruit leathers with them.  For me, the seed tends to take centre stage when they are dried and they do not seem to keep their sweet taste when they are dried.  Perhaps I dry them out too much, as I've read that others have successfully dried them.

If you're still not sure what to do with your saskatoons once they're picked, here are a few sites with recipes to get you started:

   ~ Recipes for tarts, scones, saskatoon berry loaf, crisp and syrup
   ~ Recipes including muffins, pudding, tea, vinaigrette, bars, squares and pancakes, just to name a few
   ~ Recipe for jam

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