Serviceberry salsa with cilantro berries is a unique seasonal salsa recipe featuring native serviceberries and immature green coriander seeds. The flavor combination is out-of-this-world good!
This recipe might be challenging for many people to make because it’s very unlikely you’ll find the two primary ingredients at a grocery store.
More likely, avid gardeners and/or foragers will find this to be a favorite recipe to look forward to in late spring or early summer (depending on where you live) each year when the ingredients are in season.
We can’t speak highly enough about serviceberries (aka saskatoons or juneberries), one of our favorite native fruits. In our area, they’re ripe from May through early June, depending on the variety/subspecies.
Serviceberries taste like a cross between peaches and blueberries. (Read our article about how to forage or grow serviceberries, if you aren’t already familiar with this plant.)
Need a serviceberry substitute for this salsa recipe?
Blueberries and/or peaches are an adequate substitute for serviceberries in dessert recipes, even though they’re both juicier than serviceberries (peaches especially). However, if you need a serviceberry substitute for this salsa recipe, we’d recommend using either 100% peaches or a 50/50 peach and heirloom tomato mix.
Cilantro berries aren’t true berries. They’re the immature, green seeds of the cilantro plant. (Cilantro is the intensely-flavored green herb commonly used in Latin America food.)
People either love or hate the flavor of cilantro. We fall firmly in the “love” category, and grow it in our fall, winter, and spring gardens every year. (Cilantro plants hate summer heat.)
Cilantro produces beautiful clusters of small white flowers, which are also tasty edibles. Left uneaten, the pollinated flowers quickly develop into small, round, green-colored immature seeds. We call these cilantro “berries.”
Cilantro berries grow to the size of a bb pellet and turn brown at maturity, becoming the coriander spice/seeds you see in the spice aisle at the grocery store.
What do immature green cilantro berries taste like?
At the ideal eating stage (not too young and not too old), cilantro berries are surprisingly juicy and pack an incredible flavor explosion that’s like a sweet, fruity cilantro leaf with hints of citrus rind and the more complex coriander spice. You wouldn’t want to eat them by the handful like true berries, but they add incredible flavor to a dish.
As a side note, one of the primary benefits of gardening is getting to know edible plants at various stages of development. We first discovered cilantro berries a decade ago while nibbling in our garden and have been eating them ever since.
Need a cilantro berry substitute?
If you don’t have cilantro berries, a decent substitute is toasted coriander. Put the seeds in a pan over medium heat and stir them every 30 seconds or so until they become highly aromatic (about 5 minutes). Once cooled, grind them into a powder.
Recipe tips and process photos to make serviceberry salsa with cilantro berries
1. Mash your serviceberries.
We think this recipe is better as a slightly chunky (not blended smooth) salsa. So start by mashing your serviceberries with a large fork or other kitchen implement.
2. Grind your cilantro berries with a pinch of salt in a mortar and pestle.
Next, it’s time to grind your cilantro berries. A mortar and pestle works best here, and adding a pinch of salt also adds grit which achieves a finer grind.
3. Use a bit of green onions for color and flavor.
A tablespoon of finely diced green allium leaves helps add color and flavor nuance to this salsa.
We used the green bulbil growth tips on our Egyptian walking onions, but any green onion/allium will do, even green garlic or wild garlic.
We also added a clove of diced garlic to bring some additional allium flavors to the salsa.
4. Mix in all other ingredients
We recommend using the juice of half a fresh lime. You can use pasteurized lime or lemon juice as an alternative.
Now mix all your ingredients together and salt the salsa to your taste preferences.
5. Eat as a dip or as a topping/sauce.
Serviceberry salsa with cilantro berries is quite versatile. You can eat it as a dip for tortilla chips or serve it atop light meats (fish, chicken, etc) or vegetarian alternatives like tofu, tempeh, or hempeh.
It also stores well covered in the fridge well for at least a day – perhaps longer but ours doesn’t make it that long!
Serviceberry salsa with cilantro berries
Serviceberry salsa with cilantro berries (green coriander)
Serviceberry and cilantro berry salsa is a unique seasonal salsa recipe featuring native serviceberries and immature green coriander seeds. An out-of-this-world flavor combination!
- 2 cups fresh ripe serviceberries, crushed/mashed
- 3/4 tbsp cilantro berries/green coriander, ground in mortar and pestle with pinch of salt
- 1 tsp dark brown sugar (optional but helps)
- fresh juice of 1/2 lime
- 1 garlic clove, finely diced
- 1 tbsp green onions, finely diced
- salt to taste
Mash serviceberries in bowl with large fork or other kitchen implement. Add cilantro berries and a pinch of salt to mortar and pestle and grind. Transfer to bowl with smashed serviceberries. Add all other ingredients, mix well, and taste. Add salt as-needed.
Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to one day before serving.
Serve as a dip with tortilla chips or use as a topping on fish, chicken, pork, or vegetarian alternatives like tempeh.