If you can beat the birds to them, serviceberries are a handsome match for all things pastry; or reduced into a sauce and spooned over grilled meats; or drowned in cream; or tossed directly down the hatch.
Native to this area, serviceberries (Amelanchier) have a low-key profile, looking like a cross between a shrub and a small tree. But, good things come in unsuspecting packages. For only a week or two out of the year, around the 1st of June (right now), the little dangling clusters of berries blush deep red and become sweet and tender, with a flavor reminiscent of plum and cherry. The fruit surrounds tiny soft seeds that taste like almonds. A good combination all around.
From the rose family (Rosaceae), serviceberry fruits can be easily identified by their likeness to rose hips, and by the noisy congregation of gorging songbirds the ripe berries lure.
As a tribute to this seasonal treasure and to Asheville Grit’s launch....presented here: The Serviceberry Skillet Cake (AKA: The Asheville-Grit Cake). Like so many things worth celebrating in this town, this recipe highlights a few--- with a spree of native fruit, the industrial charm of cast iron, and a nod to Asheville’s cherished concentration of savvy, colorfully inked foodies. A marriage of the finer things.