When I was a kid, on many of our families’ camping trips, while the others slept, you would often find my Uncle Garry and I out early on cool, dewy summer mornings, picking Saskatoon berries (aka Juneberries). Funny, during all of those picking excursions, I never once worried about running into a bear.
Back then, Saskatoons were special – the kind of special that only comes once a year. Although you can get them any time of the year these days, there's still something special about summer Saskatoon berries, especially when you make them into these scrumptious Saskatoon Berry Oatmeal Cookies or Saskatoon Berry Muffins!
And there is just something so satisfying about foraging for your own food, then inhaling as much of it as you can along the way.
The taste of a Saskatoon berry is actually quite difficult to describe. How do you even do justice to something that embodies the essence of so many of your childhood memories; a food that encapsulates the innocence, complacency, freedom and adventures of being a kid?
With ice cream pails overflowing, we’d haul our score back to the campsite and whip up a Saskatoon Berry Pancake feast for the rest of the brood.
It was inconsequential that I didn’t even really like pancakes. Because when that purple… no, not quite purple, but more of a mulberry- eggplant colored, plump, succulent, warm, and partially burst berry met my taste buds, the party moved to directly to my mouth and even the substandard camping pancake mix was invited!
Thankfully and surprisingly, Uncle Garry and I never did meet a bear. The fact that I never once worried about it, only speaks to the bliss of ignorance in childhood and how we, as kids, ever so unwittingly relinquish the entire burden of our well-being to the adults in our presence. And when I look back, so much of the fondness I have for my childhood is by virtue of that comfort; that comfort I took for granted, the comfort in someone else always worrying about those details, details I never would have even thought to consider.
💭What are Saskatoon Berries?
Someone once described Saskatoon berries to me, “LIKE BLUEBERRIES, BUT BETTER." So simple, yet I cannot think of a better description. Also known as Juneberries and Service berries, these berries are native to Western Canada, North Central United States and some parts of the UK. They grow on bushes and are very similar to blueberries in size and texture but with more of a purple color.
But Saskatoon berries aren't just for picking and popping in your mouth, Saskatoon Berry Pancakes or Saskatoon Berry Pies! The nutty almond note in this cookie, enveloped in a sweet symphony of brown sugar, cinnamon, coconut and oaty goodness, makes these berries sing and elevates these soft oatmeal cookies to a point where they could share the stage with any Saskatoon berry pie.
📖 Variations & Substitutions
Berries: if you don't have Saskatoon berries, you can substitute blueberries. You can also use fresh or frozen berries (just be sure to thaw and drain off any excess liquid)
Almond extract: you can substitute vanilla extract
You can store these in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. However, they freeze really well. If you want to learn how to freeze Saskatoon berries then check out this post!
So, if you are looking for Saskatoon berry recipes, don't pass these Saskatoon berry cookies by!
And fortunately for you, there is no foraging required - these days you can buy Saskatoons all year round at the grocery store or farmers market. Or you can visit a U-pick Saskatoon berry farm, as I like to do!
However, if you are feeling really ambitious, Saskatoon berry bushes still grow wild and there is a small window of ripeness (approximately 2-3 weeks) in the summer, depending on the weather. You just have to find them. Just make sure keep an eye out for bears!
Then get home and make these cookies - you'll be glad you did!
📋 Saskatoon Berry Oatmeal Cookies
- ¾ cup butter
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup white sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon milk
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 ¼ cup flour
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 ½ cups rolled oats * quick oats
- 1 ½ cups Saskatoon berries fresh or frozen and defrosted
- ¼ cup medium unsweetened coconut
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F/ 175 degrees C. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or spray with non-stick cooking spray.
- Using an electric mixer, combine butter, sugars, egg, milk and almond extract until light and fluffy.
- Whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt and add to the butter mixture.
- Add the rolled oats and coconut, mix thoroughly and then very gently stir in the Saskatoon berries. Be careful not to break them -you don’t want purple cookie dough!
- Drop by spoonfuls on to parchment paper lined cookie sheet.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 12 – 14 minutes. Cool for 3 minutes, then move to a cooling rack for an additional 3-5 minutes or until set.