Saskatoon Berry Perogies - Gastro Obscura


Saskatoon Berry Perogies

When Ukrainian immigrants embraced a local crop, a sweet prairie perogy was born.

Dessert perogies may not be familiar to those without Northern European connections, but they are as big a part of a traditional meal as the more savory varieties. And on the Canadian Prairies, those desserts take the form of saskatoon berry perogies.

Rob Engel, the owner of Baba’s Homestyle Perogies,  notes that a traditional Ukrainian dessert perogy would have a prune filling. When Ukrainians first started immigrating to the Canadian Prairies more than 100 years ago, however, prune plums were nowhere to be seen, both on trees or in local grocery stores. So the industrious newcomers turned to the locally available saskatoon berry bushes that dotted the treed areas of the countryside.

Engel states that saskatoon berry perogies have remained a regional favorite ever since, appearing at holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter. Baba’s Homestyle Perogies sources most of their saskatoon berries from local orchards such as Prairie Berries, located in Keeler, Saskatchewan. Engel recommends the best way to enjoy the sweet perogies to boil, panfry, then serve them with ice cream or whipping cream. The crispy coating on the fried dumpling makes the dessert perogy taste like a piece of hot saskatoon pie. 

“There is a little Ukrainian in everyone in Saskatchewan and Alberta,” says Engel. He notes that some customers comment that the aroma of his restaurant brings back memories of their baba’s kitchen. There are even job titles at the restaurant such as “pinchers” and “rollers,” people who dedicate their working hours to pinching perogies shut or rolling cabbage rolls, another very popular Northern European staple.

Saskatoon berry perogies hold a place of honor on Ukrainian-Canadians’ kitchen tables and serve as a testament to the adaptability and ingenuity of their immigrant ancestors. This humble boiled dumpling holds historical meaning and memories to those who seek it out.

* Note: This article uses the spelling of perogy (or perogies) that is common in the Saskatchewan region.

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