Downy Serviceberries

The dark red- to dark purple-fruited Downy serviceberry is the most common of about 25 species of the serviceberry genus native to the United States and Canada. The botanical name is Amelanchier arborea, but it is commonly called the Downy or American serviceberry or simply the serviceberry. It resides on rocky slopes, woodlands, riverbanks, and along the edge of swamps as a shrub or small tree. Ranging from the western edge of Lake Superior east to the Atlantic coast, it can be found as far north as Newfoundland and south from Florida to Louisiana. The berries form from white, showy, 5-petal flowers that grow in clusters in the early spring before leaves begin to bud. The berries, which resemble highbush blueberries in all but color but are unrelated, also form in clusters and turn from light green to rose, then deep red, and some go on to become deep purple, ripening in mid- to late summer. When ripe, the berries are very popular among birds and other wildlife. They are sweeter than the western Saskatoon serviceberry and readily edible


Pick only ripe berries. Wash, destem and crush berries in finely meshed jelly-bag. Put in primary with sugar, lemon juice, water, and crushed Campden tablet, stirring well to dissolve sugar. Cover with muslin and put in warm place. Add pectic enzyme after 12 hours and wine yeast and nutrient after additional 12 hours. Stir twice daily for 5 days, pushing jelly-bag under liquid and gently squeezing to extract juice and gas. After 5th day, gravity-drain jelly-bag one hour, then squeeze gently to extract additional juice while minimizing clouding. Return drained juice to primary, recover and wait 24 hours, then siphon off sediment into secondary and fit airlock, adjusting volume to allow 3 inches of space for foamiing. Move to cooler place. When vigorous fermentation subsides (10-14 days), top up with water or reserved juice. Ferment additional 2 weeks, then rack into clean secondary. Refit airlock and rack after 30 days. Wait another 30 days, rack again and, if clear, bottle. If not clear use fining, wait 10 days, then rack and bottle. This is a very good semi-dry wine, fit to taste after only 3 months but progressively improving with age. Two to 2-1/4 gallons of berries should make 5 gallons of wine. [Author's recipe.]


Pick only ripe berries. Wash, destem and crush berries. Heat to low boil, reduce heat, and simmer covered for 10 minutes. Fold top berries under, recover and turn off heat. After 10 additional minutes, pour into nylon jelly-bag and allow to drip over primary until pulp is cool. Meanwhile dissolve sugar into 3 cups boiling water and allow to cool. Chop or mince raisins and put in second jelly-bag. Add juice, both jelly-bags, all but 1/2 cup sugar-water, juice of one lemon, pectic enzyme, and yeast nutrients to primary. Wait at least 10 hours before inoculating with wine yeast. Cover well and set in warm (70-75 degrees F.) place, stirring twice daily and immersing jelly-bags. After 5 days, drip-drain and then gently press jelly-bag of serviceberries to extract clear juice, discarding remaining pulp and seed. Recover and ferment additional five days. Gently squeeze raisin jelly-bag to extract juice, then dicard pulp. Siphon off sediments into secondary, add remaining sugar-water, top up, fit airlock, and set in cooler (60-65 degrees F.) place. Rack three times at 30-day intervals. Bottle when clear, racking again before bottling only if additional sediments have formed. Store in dark place to preserve color. May taste after 9 months but improves with age. This is a full-bodied wine. [Author's recipe.]

Last update was November 3rd, 2000.

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