Huckleberries in the Pacific Northwest

Posted February 18, 2015 By sandy

Recently a reader asked if I could post an article about huckleberries in northern Washington.  I did some searching and found the following article by Dea on her Live.Eat.Travel blog and found some information on huckleberries in the Pacific Northwest.

Here are some excerpt from the article (NOTE:  Her article is over 4 years old, but picking huckleberries does not change!)

How to pick Huckleberries in the Pacific Northwest

Vaccinium Parvifolium fruit

Vaccinium Parvifolium

When and Where:

The berries are ripe somewhere between late August and late September based on the year. Ask your local gardener if this was a late year or an early year for all plants. That should give you a good indication of what is happening with the berries. You will need find your own patch. Click here for the Washington Trails Association’s hints to what to look for and a short list of hikes with huckleberries on them…

What to bring:

  • A hands free container
  • A larger container to fill up as the smaller container gets full. A 5 gallon bucket a good standby.
  • Long pants – no matter how warm it is. You will need the protection from the brush.
  • Sturdy shoes and thick socks
  • Non-Deet bug spray. There is nothing like a fly that won’t leave you alone that can ruin sitting in a patch of huge huckleberries on a beautiful day. If you use deet, expect to eat it later in your berries.
  • Hat – sunglasses make seeing the berries harder, so a hat is a good way to keep the sun out of your eyes.
  • Sunscreen – last time I went, I brought it but didn’t use it. I now have a farmers burn/tan.
  • Water – by the gallon. You will want to wash off your hands when you are done and you will need a lot of water to get this done efficiently. It is also good for drinking.
  • Toilet paper, just in case…
  • Gallon freezer bags – to help store the berries after you are done. This will also help you estimate how much you have picked.
  • Multiple layers of tops – you never know if it is going to be sweltering hot in the sun or cold from the clouds and the breeze. It is also a good idea to bring something in case of rain.
  • Food – lunch and snacks for the way down.
  • And finally, a sense of adventure and a desire to get some yummy berries.

    Vaccinium deliciosum with fruit

    Vaccinium deliciosum

 


Identifying the Berries:

There are actually over 5 berries commonly named Huckleberries.  It is also important to distinguish between Mountain Huckleberries and Red Huckleberries. Red Huckleberries are the type that you will see in low level forests and in backyards. These are an entirely different species of plant and taste very different…

Vaccinium Membranaceum with black fruit

Vaccinium Membranaceum

From my experience, most Mountain Huckleberries in the Washington mountains fall into three basic categories: blue, black with a reddish hue to them and then just plain black…

Typically, my least favorite kind are the blue ones. They taste more like blueberries and are more bland…

Happy picking (in the late summer) to huckleberry lovers near the coastal Pacific Northwest!
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Huckleberries in North Idaho

Posted February 5, 2015 By sandy

Looking for huckleberries in north Idaho?

Coeur d Alene is a famous resort town, known for its fine dining, beautiful lake Coeur d Alene and it’s beaches, and HUCKLEBERRIES!

 

But, of course, you won’t find any huckleberries to pick this time of the year!  But, the Guide to North Idaho has a listing of wonderful places to experience huckleberries!

 

If you’re not inclined to compete with the bears and birds for Idaho’s official state fruit, there are multiple other ways to enjoy huckleberries:

  • Baskin Robbins in Coeur d’Alene features dozens of toppings including fresh huckleberries.
  • Paul Bunyon Burgers has been a local favorite since 1952. What do the locals love about Paul Bunyon in the summertime? Huckleberry milkshakes!
  • Sargent’s on Government Way in Hayden not only serves up the best steaks in town, but also the best huckleberry pie!
  • Huckleberry topped salads and cheesecake are a must try at 315 Martinis, Tapas and Dinner at the Greenbriar Inn.

Huckleberries are the star each August when the Huckleberry / Heritage Festival takes place in Wallace the 3rd weekend. Besides a bake-off and Huckleberry pancake breakfast, vendors have huckleberry goods along with other arts and crafts. There’s also live music, a fun run, downtown bicycle race and a bicycle hillclimb to the top of Dobson Pass.

If you are inclined to visit Coeur d Alene to pick huckleberries …

By mid-June, berries on south facing lower slopes are ripe. Good picking is as late as October on north slopes. Abundant huckleberry picking spots are available throughout North Idaho. Best picking is between late July and early August. Visit parksandrecreation.idaho.gov or contact the Priest Lake Ranger District, (208)443-2512  www.fs.fed.us/ipnf/priestlake

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Identifying Wild Huckleberries

Posted January 23, 2015 By sandy

Winter is a rough time of the year for huckleberry lovers …. way too early to check the bushes; berries from the summer are gone or mostly gone; and a long wait till the new crop of berries are ready, again, for picking.

So, for some informative reading on the subject, here is an article I found on EHow:

Identifying Wild Huckleberries

How to Identify Wild Huckleberries

By Tarah Damask

 Though the name “huckleberry” applies to plant species within different genera, when identifying wild huckleberries, look for those belonging to Vaccinium species like V. membranaceum, according to Purdue University Agriculture. Known by many names, including thinleaf huckleberry and big huckleberry, this perennial shrub produces edible berries sometimes sold at local farmers markets, as these wild berries are not commercially produced. Pay special attention to color when identifying wild huckleberries to differentiate them from other visually similar berry plants.

Instructions

1. Look for a deciduous shrub with an semi-erect habit. Examine foliage and twigs that take on a dense appearance with a green leaf display. Feel the twigs and consider their color, as young twigs display a smooth, yellow-green hue while older wild huckleberry plants exhibit gray bark that crumbles from the branch, according to the Virginia Tech Forest Department of Resources and Environmental Conservation.

2. Turn to the berries that ripen during the end of summer to distinguish this shrub from other berry shrubs. Taste the berries, provided you are sure they are clean and free of chemical treatments, such as herbicides. Wild huckleberries are prized for their delicious flavor. Identify huckleberries by comparing them to blueberries and red huckleberries, which look similar, though wild huckleberries have a black color, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. Measure the berry’s diameter, which reaches 1/2 inch.

Read the rest of the story

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Huckleberry Bundt Cake with Meringue Frosting

Posted January 7, 2015 By sandy

I hope you had a wonderful huckleberry holiday season!

Personally, we sent huckleberry products and gift baskets from our Tastes of Idaho site to over 27 states — and even one basket to Ireland!!

By the way, we are currently running a After the Holiday sale on the site.  Check it out here to receive 35% off your order!!

In the meantime, check out the following Huckleberry Bundt Cake recipe from the Seattle Flour Child website:

Huckleberry Bundt Cake with Meringue Frosting

Huckleberry Bundt Cake with Meringue  Frosting

Ingredients

  • CAKE
  • 3 C All Purpose Flour
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 – 2/3 C sugar
  • 3/4 C unsalted butter – at room temp
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 T orange zest
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 3/4 C buttermilk
  • 2 C frozen huckleberries (it’s important they are frozen, or they will bleed all over the cake)
  • MERINGUE FROSTING
  • 1 C sugar
  • 1/3 C water, minus 1 T
  • 1 T orange juice
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 pinch cream of tartar
  • 1/2 t vanilla

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350. Use shortening and flour to ready your bundt pan or spray generously. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat butter and sugar together until light. Add eggs one at a time, and then add orange zest, vanilla and almond. Mix thoroughly and add dry ingredients alternately with buttermilk. Fold in berries, pour into pan and bake ~50 minutes until top springs back easily. Cool at least 8 – 10 minutes and then turn out onto a plate or rack.
  2. FROSTING: Begin heating sugar and water /juice in a small saucepan. Add a candy thermometer to the pan. Continue to boil as you froth two egg whites in the base of a standing mixer. Add cream of tartar when egg whites are frothy, stop beating. When sugar reaches about 225 degrees, begin whipping the egg whites on high until peaks form. When sugar mixture reaches 240 or soft ball stage, remove from heat and pour in a steady stream into whites, with mixer running on low. Beat for 7 full minutes until fluffy and glossy – and add half teaspoon vanilla.
http://wildhuckleberry.com/2015/01/07/huckleberry-bundt-cake-with-meringue-frosting/

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Huckleberry Recipes and Facts

Posted December 10, 2014 By sandy

We have been incredibly busy!  With all the orders for huckleberry products we are filling from our Tastes of Idaho website, I really didn’t have time to come up with a tantalizing post!  Instead, I did a quick web search on huckleberries and discovered a few interesting sites and information.

First, I found a list of 101 recipes using huckleberries!!  Yes, 101!!

If you are adventurous, here is the link: Huckleberries on Yahoo.

Huckleberry Recipes and Facts

Huckleberry patches in northern Idaho mountains

Another article I found interesting is from Wise Geek:  What are Huckleberries

Huckleberry is the name for a number of different shrubs in the Ericaceae family, which also includes blueberries and cranberries. Plants with this name come primarily from two genera: Gaylussacia and Vaccinium. The berries are small and round, with a similar appearance to blueberries, though their color may range instead from deep crimson to eggplant purple. The taste is also often compared to that of blueberries, although it is distinct.

The different types of huckleberries include the black, box, dwarf, and thinleaf. Red ones grow primarily in the western part of North America, preferring slightly acidic soils in the coastal regions. The black and dwarf plants grow mostly in the mid- and eastern part of the continent, while the woolly and Confederate huckleberry grow in the southern US. These plants haven’t been domesticated, and different varieties grow wild throughout North America.

The berries ripen in mid- to late summer, often reaching their peak in August, although this can depend of the variety, location, and growing conditions. Very few are available in grocery stores; the best place to look for them is either in the wild or at local farmer’s markets. Since they are not grown commercially, they are often more expensive than other berries.

It is generally recommended that people avoid picking the berries in early evening or early morning hours, especially in relatively remote areas. They are a favorite food of bears, including brown and black bears, and grizzlies. In fact, bears are famous for quickly eating huckleberries, since the high sugar helps them store fat for long and lean winters.

The fruit can be used much like blueberries, and they make good jams, pies, cobblers or preserves. It may also be possible to buy jam or syrup and occasionally fresh berries from a variety of Internet sites.

There are a few reasons why this species of berry has not adapted well to commercial farming. The plants take a number of years to grow to maturity and produce fruit, and they also prefer acidic soils. Another reason farmers tend not to bother with them is because they have to be handpicked. Machines that pick blueberries don’t work well with huckleberries, so harvesting them is more labor intensive. Research is being done to find ways to make the berry more easily cultivated.

The relative rarity and difficulty in obtaining huckleberries translates to significant cost. They are usually sold in frozen packages. It is much harder to find fresh ones, and their availability is often limited to areas in which they flourish in the wild.

 

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Huckleberries on Pinterest

Posted December 4, 2014 By sandy

Pinterest is newer to the internet than our Wild Huckleberry website.  Despite that, numerous huckleberry sites and Pinterest boards have cropped up since then and share some wonderful recipes.

Over the last several months, we have liked a few Pinterest pages on huckleberries that are very interesting.

But, first, before I share what I found, let me ask you to check out our Huckleberries on Pinterest page:

Huckleberries!

Huckleberries on Pinterest

Here are some of the Pinterest board I found that feature huckleberries and huckleberry recipes (And yes, I know they mostly have the same name — misspellings and all — but here they are):

If you have a huckleberry Pinterest board and it is not listed here, please share in the comments below!

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Huckleberry Vinaigrette

Posted November 26, 2014 By sandy

Huckleberries in a vinaigrette makes one of the most wonderful tasting vinaigrettes!  One of the first times I ever tried it was at a restaurant owned by one of my friend.  She has a specialty salad where she added huckleberry vinaigrette over a bed of lettuce, candies pecans and dried cranberries.  It was delicious.

Of course, when I finally found a good recipe, I saved it to share here:

Huckleberry Vinaigrette

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup or so of huckleberries
  • 2 tbsp raw honey
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • pinch of salt
  • 3/4 to 1 cup of olive oil

Instructions

  1. In a small food processor, mix the huckleberries, honey, vinegar, and salt. Pour the mixture into a bowl and then whisk in the olive oil. The mixture will separate as it sits so just make sure to whisk it up before putting on your salad.
http://wildhuckleberry.com/2014/11/26/huckleberry-vinaigrette/

But, if you want to serve huckleberry vinaigrette on your salad, you can just purchase a bottle of my Vinaigrette, reducedfavorite from our Tastes of Idaho website:

Perhaps the most delicious salad dressing on the planet! (I have to take my Mom a bottle every time I got to visit.) Perfectly flavored and blended, and a great regular stock item in your fridge, or as a specialty treat during the holidays or other special occasions. Stylish 8.5-ounce bottle, and great labeling.

Made in north Idaho where the huckleberries grow wild!!

Click here to purchase!

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Want Huckleberry Products?

Posted November 13, 2014 By sandy

Just wanted to post a note about our annual 10% off pre-Christmas sale on Tastes of Idaho website — running November 16 to November 19, Sunday through Wednesday.

Huckleberry products

If you are looking for special huckleberry gifts for your friends and/or family,  this is the place to see the one of the largest online selection of  huckleberry products.

Note that we are happy to DELAY shipments to your friends and family … just be sure to make a note in the comments upon completion of your order. Otherwise, we usually send in 1 to 3 business days, depending on sales volume.

Tastes of Idaho

Remember:  Sales starts this Sunday and runs until Wednesday!

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Huckleberry Cheese Cake, Anyone??

Posted November 5, 2014 By sandy

I found this picture on the internet that made my mouth water ….

Food Porn: “This is how we do cheesecake here in Idaho,” posts Idaho Dad. “Smothered with huckleberries, and really just looking too good to eat, although we get around to it after much admiring and photo-taking.” Mmm-mmm good.

Food Porn: “This is how we do cheesecake here in Idaho,” posts Idaho Dad. “Smothered with huckleberries, and really just looking too good to eat, although we get around to it after much admiring and photo-taking.” Mmm-mmm good.

….And, I thought, how mean that they did not include a recipe!!

So, for huckleberry cheese cake lovers, here are some recipes ….

Organic Double Chocolate Huckleberry Cheesecake

“Decadent delight is contest winner” From The Spokesman-ReviewKirsten Schierman of Spokane won the grand prize in a chocolate recipe contest sponsored by DisneyFamily.com. Her Organic Double Chocolate Huckleberry Cheesecake earned her a $2,000 shopping spree at Williams-Sonoma. …

Huckleberry Cream Cheese Cake

Huckleberry Cheese Cake

Huckleberry Cheesecake Recipe by delcy – CHOWHuckleberry cheesecake is one of the best i have ever had. The berries make a delicious topping. You can find the berries year around (frozen of course) at

Huckleberry Cream Cheese Pie

Huckleberry Cream Cheese Pie Recipe – Allrecipes.comA pecan pastry is the base of this cream cheese pie that’s topped with a delicious huckleberry sauce.

Easy No-Bake Cheesecake with Huckleberries

Phe.MOM.enon: Easy No-Bake Cheesecake with HuckleberriesBy PheMom
My mother-in-law got this recipe from another family member for a no-bake Cherry Cheesecake, and since my husband is such a fiend for huckleberries, and his Mom always makes sure to have some on hand, we decided to top the cheesecake

Huckleberry Goat Cheese Cake

Fold in 8 additional cups of huckleberries and cool. Sweet Summer. DESSERTS. CONTINUED ➛ Huckleberry and Peach Topping (while warm), and finish ..

Huckleberry Cheese Cake

Berry Bliss: Huckleberry Bliss!By Berry Bliss
Huckleberries are relatives of the blueberry and the cranberry they are high in antioxidants, vitamin C, manganese, iron and a good source of vitamin A. They are a good source of vitamin B and helps speed up metabolism and potassium

Huckleberry Cheese Cake

Huckleberry Cheese Cake

Dessert Recipe Ideas: How To Make A Huckleberry CheesecakeHistorically, many a loving couple may have courted while picking huckleberries while in group settings. This makes choosing to make and serve a huckleberry
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HB pie filling

Huckleberry Pie Filling

If you would like an easy way to make huckleberry cheese cake, just buy or make your favorite recipe and add a jar of this Huckleberry Pie Filling on top.  A wonderfully easy and delicious topping for ANY cake.

Wild Mountain Huckleberry Pie Filling can be found and purchased on our Tastes of Idaho website!

Check out the large selection of other huckleberry products on the site!

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Huckleberry Fudge

Posted October 29, 2014 By sandy

A few years back, my husband and I attending (and exhibited) at the North Powder Huckleberry Festival in North Powder, Oregon.

Even thought North Powder is a small town, they had a wonderful parade, celebration and array of huckleberry goodies (you can find some pictures of the North Powder, Oregon Huckleberry Desserts here!).

We had a good time, met lots of nice people and exchanged lots of huckleberry stories and products.

Before we left, we purchased a copy of their cookbook called “Huckleberries on the Trail” (sorry, but it was a few years ago and I could not find any place online where the book is offered for sale).

With the holiday season coming up, I thought I would share their Huckleberry Fudge recipe:

North Powder Huckleberry Fudge

North Powder Huckleberry Fudge

Ingredients

  • 4 cups huckleberries
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 cup nuts

Instructions

  1. Blend huckleberries, raisins, sugar and cornstarch in blender.
  2. Add nuts and blend briefly.
  3. Pour into a heavy skillet and cook down until thick.
  4. Pour into pan and dry in slow oven until firm enough to cut.
http://wildhuckleberry.com/2014/10/29/huckleberry-fudge/

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