On my long run a couple days ago, I noticed the serviceberry trees in town were loaded with ripe fruit. I stopped and snacked on a handful (okay a few handfuls!) and plotted out my return to come harvest as many as possible.
I had never heard of serviceberry before coming to Asheville. Apparently, not many people know what they are since the trees around town are mostly ignored by people walking by. If you’ve never had one before, they taste like a cross between a nectarine and a blueberry and grow on short, easy-to-harvest trees. Also called juneberry, wild plum, sugarplum, and shadblow, the trees are in the rose family and are related to peaches, plums, and cherries. No wonder they’re so good!
So yesterday, I packed up the kids with a few bags in our packs and walked down to the roundabout down the road from us. The kids had never tasted a serviceberry before and I promised it would be worth the walk in the hot sun. “Mama, you were right!” (Best words ever spoken.) “Can we eat as many as we want?”
We got to work picking, eating, climbing, and filling our bags. There are about 6 trees in this spot and we maybe got 20% of two trees before we had a gallon of berries.
People walking by looked at us in curiosity and we just smiled like we were in on this big secret. Sure, there are a lot of plants with red berries that are poisonous, and I imagined people were thinking I was a crazy lady picking poison berries with my kids. One group of tourists looked at us as they walked by and only one guy of the four was brave enough to ask what in the world we were doing. I told him how great they were and he took a taste and exclaimed, “they taste like nectarines!” He picked an handful and brought them over to his clearly suspicious friends.
Once we brought our bounty home, making serviceberry ice cream was the top priority. This is definitely a treat with a good bit of sugar, but so worth the indulgence!