Lost in time, serviceberries are resurrected on the menu at Barn8.
Before the age of heavy machinery made breaking frozen ground possible for winter burials in Appalachia, many moved their deceased loved ones into receiving vaults.
Thick-walled, mausoleum-like structures steadily were filled in the colder months. When the Amelanchier trees’ buds burst into bloom, it meant the ground was thawed and ready for funeral processions.
Some say that’s what earned the tree, a subfamily of the stone fruit, the name “serviceberry.”
Executive chef Alison Settle at Hermitage Farms’ Barn8 Farm Restaurant & Bourbon Bar had never heard of the tree’s fruit until the estate’s horticulture director, Stephanie Tittle, began to grow Amelanchiers on the property.
The fruit’s “blueberry taste,” says Settle, remains as the ripening color gives way to a deeply bruised hue. Settle serves them atop the restaurant’s ever-changing burrata, which is dressed according to the season.
The serviceberries provided to Barn8 are used as quickly as possible. But Settle doesn’t shy away from alternative uses for the mild, sweet pods.
Despite their morbid moniker, she stretches out their life for as long as she can using a dehydrator. Removing all the liquid from the fruit results in a concentrated flavor with a longer shelf life.
The new craisin-like life of the berry is fit for snacking and dressing salads.
Raise a Glass to Serviceberries
When dressing the seasonal burrata dish with berries, Settle likes to pair it with an effervescent drink.
“A prosecco or Champagne will always complement a creamy and mild cheese and berries,” says Settle. Have extra serviceberries lying around? Drop them into your flute for a boozy bite upon the last sip.
The early-June harvest is limited at Hermitage Farms and the window is slim, confesses Settle. Although serviceberries have only found themselves on top of the burrata at Barn8, they can be preserved by making them into a jam or baking them into a spring pie or cobbler.
“The applications are endless,” she says. “It just depends on how much you can find.”
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