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Old Fashioned, Traditional Saskatoon Pie

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saskatoon pie

Today’s pie post is brought to you with a vintage photo finish and an old-fashioned pie recipe, straight from my family – and many others on the prairies- archives. Saskatoon pie is something I grew up eating more than any other pie and I do mean any. We ate wild blueberry, occasionally apple, but about 95% of my grandmother’s meals included a Saskatoon berry pie for dessert.

Saskatoon berries grow abundantly on our prairies but never have I come across a province more lush with them than Manitoba. My family hails from southern Manitoba, indeed, we can trace my Dad’s family right back to the date they settled in the Red River region thanks to a book that was published outlining the settlers of that area. This recipe didn’t travel with them from the Ukraine but was created out of the sheer abundance of local Saskatoon berries that they discovered in Manitoba when they immigrated, making me the fourth known generation to use this recipe for making amazing saskatoon pie. It almost boggles the mind thinking that some days.

The Saskatoon berry is so ingrained into the local food culture in southern Manitoba that it would be conspicuous if it were actually missing. Local stores such as Co-Op (a large grocery store chain for those who aren’t familiar) will actually carry Saskatoon baked goods. I have bought Saskatoon scones and muffins from the Co-Op in Dauphin, Manitoba right alongside the usual raisin and blueberry.  This is something I’ve only come across in Manitoba, I have yet to find Saskatoon products on mainstream shelves in Alberta yet.

Picking Saskatoon berries is also something my sister and I grew up doing and we can smell a tree loaded with berries a mile away.

Berry Bloodhounds.

Truly though, growing up picking them and taking them back to my grandma to be made into a pie means that my sister and I are always on the same wavelength when we see trees and bushes loaded with Saskatoons.

It’s the pie wavelength.

Nothing in this world tastes as good as a fresh Saskatoon pie with a bit of vanilla ice cream melting on top.

Nothing tastes like my childhood like a fresh Saskatoon pie with a bit of vanilla ice cream melting on top, the flavor made all that more delightful because you were eating the literal fruit of your labors earlier that day.

While vacationing here in lovely Christina Lake BC, we found Saskatoons. We always find Saskatoons – Berry Bloodhounds, remember? So it was second nature that my sister and I would take containers and pick Saskatoons until we had enough for pies.

I’ll post the recipe at the end and let the next set of photos do the talking.

I used a vintage finish on my photos because other than our attire dating us, this could have been one of 4 generations of my family out picking berries for pie……..any generation of my family preparing the pies in their kitchen….. and most definitely any generation of my family teaching the next generation how to bake.

saskatoon pie

 

saskatoon pie

 

saskatoon pie

 

saskatoon pie

 

saskatoon pie

 

saskatoon pie

Another difference I would like to point out is that when we pick berries in Manitoba, some one is usually carrying a rifle. This was my son picking Morel mushrooms on my aunt’s land just outside of Dauphin a few years back.

My aunt Janice was in charge of the rifle that day.  Where there are mushrooms or berries, there are guaranteed bears, because in bush country Manitoba you are never the only one foraging for food. I actually still have momentary panic attacks when we are out picking berries or mushrooms without a rifle, because it is so completely ingrained in me that someone needs to have a rifle on them.  Berry pails? Check. Bug Spray? Check. Hats and sunscreen? Check. Rifle? Check.

saskatoon pie

I managed to not have a panic attack seeing how we picked these at the side of a road here.

Now for the recipe and a few modern pictures! I absolutely love the one of my sister and nephew, it tugs my heartstrings. What a joy it was to actually be able to photograph someone ELSE baking for a change! I so rarely get the opportunity.

Saskatoon berries – if picked dry- will stay for a couple of days no problem on your counter. The most important thing is that you do not wash them until you are going to use them. Now we did pick in the rain and our berries lasted just fine, but I wouldn’t risk your luck like that.

If you are going to bake within a day or two, don’t freeze them. Just clean out the debris and caterpillars that almost inevitably end up in there.

When you are ready to bake, wash them in a colander.

Learn to cook like the Kitchen Magpie

Old Fashioned, Traditional Saskatoon Pie

A scrumptious, easy and traditional Saskatoon pie recipe that my family has been baking for 4 generations.
5 from 9 votes
Prep Time
15 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour 5 minutes
Total Time
1 hour 20 minutes
Course
Dessert
Cuisine
pie
Servings
6
Calories
459
Author
Karlynn Johnston

Ingredients

  • 4 cups Saskatoon berries
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp extra white sugar
  • 2 1/2 tbsp corn starch
  • 14 1/2 oz pastry (pie crust for one 9 inch pie)
  • 1 egg for brushing the top

Instructions

  1. Gently toss together your Saskatoons, sugar and cornstarch/crushed Tapioca, until the berries are coated.
  2. Place your bottom crust into the pie plate.

  3. Pour your berries into the pie plate. 

  4. Add butter on top if desired.

  5. Cover with your crust. 

  6. Brush your pie crust with the egg then sprinkle the sugar on top. 

  7. Pinch the seams together and mark your pie vents as you like. 

  8. Using the lowest rack of your oven, bake for 15 minutes at 425 degrees, then lower the temperature to 350 degrees and bake for about 50-55 minutes more. 

  9. When your pie edges start to become too brown - and they always will- cover the edges with tinfoil or use a pie crust cover. I have one and they are amazing! 

  10. Continue baking until you see the pie filling bubbling and your pie is beautifully browned all over the top. 

  11. Remove from the oven and cool on a baking rack.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 459kcal, Carbohydrates: 68g, Protein: 5g, Fat: 18g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Cholesterol: 27mg, Sodium: 292mg, Potassium: 152mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 27g, Vitamin A: 95IU, Vitamin C: 9.6mg, Calcium: 23mg, Iron: 2.2mg

All calories and info are based on a third party calculator and are only an estimate. Actual nutritional info will vary with brands used, your measuring methods, portion sizes and more.

Made this recipe?

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Please rate this recipe in the comments below to help out your fellow cooks!

And there you have it.

If you are a sharp baking cookie, you might have noticed that I don’t use lemon in my recipe. No rind, no juice, completely Saskatoon berries flavor. My family has never used lemon in their Saskatoon pies ; this would have been impossible in rural Manitoba when my family immigrated, then financially unfeasible in the Depression years and according to my Mom, my grandfather liked his food plain and as Nature made it.

I didn’t believe her. Surely my Grandma used lemon, it’s in every other recipe out there.

So we did a family taste test. We baked up three Saskatoon pies with the Saskatoons we picked. Two with lemon and one without.

My Mom was right.

saskatoon pie

No lemon. I guess I shouldn’t have questioned the generation that passed it on to me, nor the generations that passed it on to her.

Leaving the lemon out lets the berries flavor shine. Earthy, smoky, pure.

Now I fully realize I am biased because this is the taste I grew up with, but the whole family concurred that the lemon-less pie was the best of the batch.

It was, without a shadow of a doubt, my Grandma’s Saskatoon pie.

It’s amazing how the taste of a certain food can bring back such memories. We spent a long time reminiscing about summers spent in Manitoba, of picking berries, of bears and bass fishing and most of all, my Grandma.

This was the best thing I have eaten all week here in BC.

That may change, as I haven’t fried up my bass yet.

Oh, did I say bass?  Yes, we caught bass and I’m going to use my aunt’s simple yet fabulous way of cooking it.

Recipe coming soon!

Love,

I’m In Wild Food Heaven Magpie

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Karlynn Johnston

I’m a busy mom of two, wife & cookbook author who loves creating fast, fresh meals for my little family on the Canadian Prairies. Karlynn Facts: I'm allergic to broccoli. I've never met a cocktail that I didn't like. I would rather burn down my house than clean it. Most of all, I love helping YOU get dinner ready because there's nothing more important than connecting with our loved ones around the dinner table!

Learn more about me

Site Index Fruit pies Pie Saskatoon berry

Reader Interactions

Comments & Recipe Tips Share a tip or comment!

  1. Elaine Jordan says

    Karolyn is your new cookbook, The Prairie Table going to be available at Costco for Christmas 2019? Purchased your book Flapper Pie and a Blue Prairie Sky at Costco a few Christmas ago, and love it.
    Thanks.

  2. Dale Karen Young says

    I just made my usual saskatoon pie (Atco kitchen recipe) – which calls for basically stewing the berries with sugar and instant tapioca (and yes – lemon!) for about 10 minutes before putting them in the crust. This basically gives a somewhat jellied filling that doesn’t run when cut. I have never made it with just putting the uncooked berries on the crust – but I plan to try your recipe next time. Do you have any comments about the two variations? (PS my family hails from Kamsack SK which is just about 15 miles away from Manitoba – so we grew up picking plentiful saskatoons too!)

  3. Tanya Turner says

    Can you just make the pie filling and freeze that to use at a later time eith fresh crusts?

  4. Kathryn B says

    I stumbled upon your website a few weeks ago, and as soon as I saw the desserts book I knew I had to have it! As a Saskatchewan girl these recipes bring back so many memories. I started with the flapper pie, which my husband declared his new favorite. Today I made 4 Saskatoon pies using this recipe as well as the pastry recipe from your book. What can I say – humble, unpretentious, nostalgic. It takes me back to my grandpa teaching me to make pie crust, to summer suppers at the in-laws before my husband’s stepmother passed away, when she would have retrieved a Saskatoon pie from the freezer in anticipation of company. The quintessential prairie pie for hot summer days! Thanks so much for sharing, I can’t wait to try more of your recipes!

    • Karlynn Johnston says

      I am so glad that you liked it! Welcome to the website, have fun cooking and baking!!

  5. Claire says

    Just tried this pie recipe and both my husband and I agree, this was the best pie ever. I just finished saskatoon berry picking for the first time yesterday and was searching for a good recipe to try. I love the simplicity of the recipe in that there is no cooking of berries required before baking the pie, and also that it does not ask for lemon juice. Thanks for sharing your story, history, and recipe! The recipe is now printed and will go on my recipe book with 5 stars!

    Claire

    • Chris says

      So happy to read this! I too grew up eating Saskatoon and Saskatoon rhubarb pies st grandmas house, only here in Alberta. My dad and I still go berry picking along the river in Calgary. I’ve been trying to find the easiest way to make a good pie filling that captures the taste I remember and I’m sceptical of the ones that involve cooking the berries down, I’m excited to try this one ASAP!

  6. Claire says

    I’m in British Columbia and picked wild saskatoon berries yesterday for the first time. I’ve got one batch in the fruit dryer and planning on making a few pies using your traditional family recipe today. Thanks so much for the story in your blog and the recipe.

    • Kathy says

      I just tried making the pie. It looked and smelled fabulous, but it’s tastless. I cooked it according to directions, but now thinking not long enough? Not sure, but I was disappointed in the taste.

  7. Brenda Nordin says

    I would like to make your Saskatoon pie but do not see the amount for the tapioca?

  8. J. Earl Hubley says

    Can’t wait to try. My father worked S Man. in ’20s, hailing from NS on the Hobo work trains.m yo work the fields Spoke about the fine home cooking put up by the locals. Who knows, maybe even tried your grandma’s pie.

  9. Elaine Hill says

    I love this recipe, but now I would like to make some ahead and freeze them. Can I make up the pie and put it directly into the freezer instead of the oven? When taken out of the freezer, do I thaw it first before baking it, or put it directly into the oven and at what temperature (as it will be frozen)

    • Karlynn Johnston says

      Yes! My Grandma pre-made them all the time. Let them cool, wrap with Saran Wrap, then with tinfoil, then freeze. Re-heat them slow and low, around 300!

  10. Leslie Ann S says

    I have your lovely cookbook, and I made this pie yesterday. I don’t know how to find saskatoon berries so I used wild blueberries. I don’t know how the taste compares, but the pie was very popular with my family. This is an easy-to-follow recipe that is delicious. Thank you for sharing this treasure.

  11. danacorr1 says

    Love your recipe! Wondering if you’ve frozen the pie before….cooked or uncooked? This year is a plentiful Saskatoon crop in Manitoba…first in a long time! Would love to freeze pies to carry into fall/winter.

    • thekitchenmagpie says

      danacorr1 Bake, then freeze, that’s what my grandma did. Then she warmed up in a low oven to thaw, crisp up and serve.

      • E.Thomas says

        This is an amazing recipe, if I had more berries i would have made more pies as everyone put in orders!

    • Willow says

      @Romay She means you will need MORE sugar (1 tsp), in addition to the sugar called for in the line above.

  12. PennyLynnScott says

    Made this pie with about 1/3 wild strawberries and the rest saskatoons.  AMAZING!  

  13. Laura Bentley says

    I’ve been out picking & will try this recipe 🙂 Thank you.

  14. Linda Coccimiglio says

    I want to go back also we should all get together. Lol and road trip

  15. Josh Siemens says

    i would agree. Cherry is a close 2nd for myself.

  16. The Kitchen Magpie says

    I want to head back for the Ukrainian Festival one year…

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