Saskatoon Berries History
Saskatoon berries (Amelanchier alnifolia Nutt.), commonly known as Saskatoons, are purplish-blue berries that grow on a bush. Interestingly, other names used to describe this fruit were Serviceberries, June berries, Shadberries, Sugar pear and Indian pear previously. Saskatoon Berries look similar to blueberries with variation in color and size. Saskatoon berries are purple-coloured, and the size of berries varies due to different cultivars.
Saskatoon berries people enjoy today are the same crop grown and enjoyed by the Aboriginal peoples of Western Canada hundreds of years ago. The name itself is derived from the Cree word “Mis-sask-quah-too-mina”, a word that sounds very similar to “Saskatoon”. The berries were a staple for both Aboriginal people and early settlers. The berries were enjoyed fresh, or steamed and mashed and then left to dry into a brick-like consistency for longevity. Pieces of these Berries bricks were then chipped off as needed and added to soups, stews or simply boiled to reconstitute them.
The bush of the Saskatoon berries was useful to Aboriginal people as well. The leaves and fruit were dried and used to make tea. The wood of the bush itself was weighty and flexible and thus useful in arrows and other tools, basket frames and cross-pieces of canoes. Several parts of the shrub were also used for medicinal purposes.
Several parts of the shrub were used medicinally. Concoctions of the inner bark and roots were used to treat diarrhea, dysentery, painful menstruation, and bleeding during pregnancy. A warm decoction of the stems and twigs, or bark, was used by the women of the Thompson Indians to treat pain and bleeding after giving birth to a child. A root tea was believed to prevent miscarriage. The fruit was also used, along with spruce tips, blue currants and snowberry leaves and stems, as part of a concoction for gonorrhoea. Some tribes boiled the inner bark of the Saskatoon to produce a remedy for snow-blindness; one drop of the strained fluid was placed in the affected eye three times daily. Fruit concoctions were also used for sore eyes and stomach problems.
This latter use, speaks to the nutritional value of the Saskatoon berries, which has been well researched and documented in our own time. The composition of the Saskatoon berries is often compared to that of the blueberries, which has had strong market appeal and marketplace success. The Saskatoon Berries however, has nutritional properties that are significantly higher in protein, fat, fibre, calcium, magnesium, manganese, barium, and aluminum than the blueberries. and are lower in phosphorus and sulfur. Saskatoon berries are also a source of Vitamin A and Vitamin C.
As in the days of our aboriginal peoples, current research has shown Saskatoon Berries have nutraceutical, functional, and nutritional properties that are significantly unknown for the most part. Read more information on: Nutrition and Health
Colourful, flavourful, versatile and nutritional are the words that best describe the Saskatoon berries. These tasty pleasures have been a staple of Western Canada for hundreds of years, and are now enjoyed both domestically and in the international market.
Prairie Berries Inc. is a Canadian based food company specializing in Saskatoon berries to offer this SuperFruit to customers around the world in a secure reliable manner. Our objective is to be the industry leader through our reputation for quality and integrity of the Saskatoon berry products.
Our philosophy at Prairie Berries Inc. is to work together with growers, suppliers, customers, and employees to develop long term cooperative alliances by which all parties find mutual benefit through the production, processing, and marketing of Saskatoon berries.
Prairie Berries Inc.
Keeler, SK, Canada