Domesticate Huckleberries?

Posted July 28, 2016 By sandy

One of the International Wild Huckleberry Association’s friend and reader has made local news with his attempts to domesticate huckleberries.

Here is part of his story from the Coeur d Alene Press website:

Joe Culbreth

Berry and Nut Farm now producing huckleberries

Joe Culbreth’s 15-acre swath of land is beautifully organized into arcing rows of flowers, berries, grapes and a wide variety of fruit trees. He always wanted to plant and grow things when he retired, so he did….

Six years ago, he bought more than 1,200 huckleberry plants for his farm. Usually, when people want huckleberries, they go into to forest and pick them wild.

“I wanted something different and I love huckleberries,” he said. “I’ve been huckleberrying in Idaho since ’79.”

Culbreth bought huckleberry plants from a variety of locations, one of which was from the University of Idaho’s Sandpoint Research and Extension Center where Dan Barney, head of the center, was doing research to domesticate huckleberries.

Over the years Culbreth has used Barney as a resource for information about maintaining the plants.

He learned huckleberries like partial shade. So, he planted blueberry bushes and dwarf apple trees on the west side of the huckleberries, to make that partial shade.

Unfortunately for Culbreth, Barney moved to Alaska recently, leaving Culbreth alone to tend to the huckleberries, which never grew. And year after year, they still never grew any berries. Each year, Culbreth held out hope the next year the plants would bear fruit.

Finally, in their sixth season on his property, the huckleberries are growing.

He thinks this year’s mild winter and early spring have helped the plants produce fruit. As of right now, most of the huckleberry bushes have produced fruit that looks ripe, but tastes green. One bush had good berries on it.

Read the full article here

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More on the Huckleberry Season in Montana

Posted July 25, 2016 By sandy

An update on the huckleberry crop from the Flathead Beacon

More on the Huckleberry Season in Montana

Huckleberries Bounce Back

… Last year’s crop was dismal, affected by record heat and drought conditions that lasted all summer and decimated crop yields.

It was a hot summer further marred by major wildfire activity, which also impacts the next season’s huckleberries. In Flathead National Forest, where people can pick up to 10 gallons of hucks before needing a commercial permit, the berries in areas untouched by last year’s wildfires look like they’re slightly ahead of schedule.

“In the fire areas from last year we’re not seeing any huckleberries,” Deb Mucklow, district ranger for the Spotted Bear Ranger District of the national forest, said. “Outside the fire areas, we are seeing some huckleberries, and they did start ripening a little bit earlier than some years. I would tell people they should come and expect to look, but people are picking, and people are finding some nice berries.”

In Glacier National Park, U.S. Geological Survey researcher Tabitha Graves said that, compared to last year, this year’s berry yield looks fuller, and the bushes at lower elevations produced berries earlier than average, though “average” is a bit of a hazy concept when huckleberries are concerned.

“The upper elevations (5,500 feet and above) certainly appear to be more along what we think of as average,” Graves said….

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Great Huckleberry Season in Montana

Posted July 20, 2016 By sandy

With the huckleberry in full swing in the northern Rocky region, folks are reporting a great huckleberry season in Montana!

In contrast to the 2015, where the meager crop was very poor due to the lack of snow pack and/or spring rains.  The few berries were on the bushes dried up on the branches during the very hot, dry picking season.

Here are some of the reports coming in this season from the Kalispell, Montana area:

Purple Finger Syndrome and Berry Good Liam

… When we were on our way to Huckleberry Heaven yesterday afternoon (pictured above and at 4,800 feet elevation and that’s all I’m telling), we passed a car on the road.  I noticed the driver gave a sort of “truck driver” wave.  That’s usually just one finger raised above the steering wheel.

Maybe this guy didn’t exactly have the pure truck-driver wave cuz Bill said his fingers were purple.

Now, I’m not so sure Bill saw his fingers that closely, but the observation could have been correct because this morning I’ve got the fingers to verify that there were, indeed, ripe, juicy huckleberries in them thar woods….

huckleberry season in Montana

Flathead Valley seeing great huckleberry season

… We’re right in the middle of huckleberry season. Thanks to low gas prices and the National Park Service’s centennial celebration, tourism has been fantastic for the Flathead Valley.

MTN News caught up with Huckleberry Haven owner Edward Springman too see how things are going. He says this has been a record year for his business and that the huckleberries have arrived early for this season, as well.

“It’s probably the second earliest. I’ve seen berries coming in early the last couple weeks or so; the nice mild spring with early, warm temperatures we had a month or so ago really helped out.”

He says the demands are great and the retailers are asking for more….

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Taming the Wild Huckleberry

Posted July 14, 2016 By sandy

If you did not already see the article, Malcolm, from the International Wild Huckleberry Association, was interviewed by for a recent article on the Atlas Obsura website:

Taming the Huckleberry

Will We Ever Tame The Wild Huckleberry?

…The Pacific Northwest takes huckleberries very, very seriously. Starting in July, droves of huckleberry hounds fall on state parks and roadside patches, eyes peeled and picking pails in tow. Soon after, any berries that aren’t scarfed on sight begin turning up in everything from snow cones to daquiris to barbecue sauce. States fight over them: there are several self-proclaimed huckleberry capitals, and Idaho has made it their official fruit. Individuals fight over them, too: in Montana in 2014, gunfire was exchanged over potential patch pilfering. “There’s probably a million huckleberry pickers in the Pacific Northwest,” says Malcolm Dell, founder of the Wild Huckleberry Association and a longtime picker himself. “It’s much bigger than people realize.” …

Native Americans cultivated wild huckleberry stands, encouraging their growth with controlled burns. When early European settlers tried to transplant the berries elsewhere, they failed miserably, for a very basic reason: they took the wrong part of the plant. Huckleberries spread via rhizomes, long, leggy strands that look like roots, but are really just underground stems. “They think they’re digging up a plant, but they’re just digging up a limb,” says Dell. “Replanting” one is like burying a stick—nothing happens….

For Dell, domestication would let huckleberry lovers have it both ways. “They’d have the commercial crops that are grown in the fields, and then there’d be the wild picking that still goes on for recreationalists,” he says. Barney’s research is publicly available, and his seeds are in several federal collections, waiting to be planted. Until then, their cousins will grow wild, awaiting their fate.

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If you are unsure about the difference between huckleberries and blueberries …. well, you probably have never eaten a huckleberry.

But, to help you out, here is a quote from WCAI: The Cape, the Coast and the Island website describing the differences:

The Difference Between Huckleberries and Blueberries

 

Huckleberries Growing Across the Cape Are Tasty and Often Overlooked

“Huckleberries tend to be more of a challenge to collect than blueberries,” Gadway says. “Blueberries tend to grow in clumps. But huckleberries grow as single berries, and you have to pick them one at a time. After you bring them home, you don’t have the big pile of berries.”…

“I think it’s more intense,” he says. “Once you’ve tasted a huckleberry, most people say they’re really good. The quality, how plump the berry is, will depend on how much rainfall we’ve had over the winter and spring. If it’s been dry, the huckleberries tend to have these little seeds that are more noticeable, whereas if it’s been wet, you don’t tend to notice as much.”

The two plants look a little different and so do the fruits.

“Blueberries are generally actually blue, and they can come in both a highbush form and a lower growing type of plant. Huckleberries are pretty universal in their bush: they’re maybe one-to-two feet off the ground, and the berries are smaller usually, and they’re really black in color.”

Huckleberries also aren’t domesticated. Plant breeders in Idaho—where the huckleberry is the state fruit—have apparently been trying for over a century with little success. Many foragers keep their spots to themselves—but Neil says when he sees huckleberry plants, he tries to spread the word.  “There are still a lot of areas in town that have huckleberries. I work out in the field at a lot different houses on the lower cape. I will see occasionally huckleberries growing out on people’s front lawns, and I ask them, if I’m there in say June or July, if they pick their huckleberries. And they kind of look at me with this quizzical face and say “huckle-what?” I ask if they mind if I pick some. They say “Sure!” I have to explain to them that they’re quite edible and quite tasty. So after I leave, maybe they’re trying them themselves because they’re growing in their front yard.

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Aftermath of the Huckleberry Festival in Jay

Posted July 7, 2016 By sandy

If you read my post from a week or so ago, you know that Jay Oklahoma hosted their annual huckleberry festival.

After the festival, Zack Collum, posted his review on the Grand Lake News website.
Aftermath of Huckleberry Festival in Jay

Here are some excerpts from his article on the Huckleberry Festival in Jay:

As I stood in line in front of the Grand River Abstract building, waiting for my ice cream with huckleberry sauce, my taste buds thought of the worst.

I thought ,”What if I turn out to be a big wuss and absolutely hate huckleberries?

What if I spit them out and everyone at the Huckleberry Festival gives me a concerned look when I walk by?”

I am thankful to report, this was not the case.

The huckleberry is better than I could have imagined. Not too sweet, not too bitter.

Gee, if Zack had lived somewhere near the Rocky Mountains where most people feel huckleberries are a common food staple (especially during this time of the year), he would already know how wonderful they taste in ice cream, in cakes, in fruit dishes, in specialty drinks and milk shakes, on salmon, in all kinds of baked goods ….. or just plain off the brush!

Here’s to Jay, Oklahoma’s Huckleberry Festival!!

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Huckleberry Association Tee Shirts!!

Posted July 2, 2016 By sandy
For a limited time only:  Huckleberry Association Tee Shirts!!

Show your proud support for the wild huckleberry resource (and the wonderful goodies made from them) by getting this Tee featuring the International Wild Huckleberry Association Tee ShirtsHuckleberry official logo! These also make great gifts for your outdoorsy friends or family members.

This shirt is available in 7 different colors and ALL sizes, through Wednesday, July 6 — the peak of huckleberry season in Idaho, Montana, eastern Oregon, and eastern Washington in the US, Alberta and British Columbia in Canada! (West Coast berries are usually a bit later!)

This is the FIRST Tee Shirt offering in support of the Association. Become a leader in huckleberry conservation and enjoyment by wearing your IWHA Tee with pride.

Order your Huckleberry tee shirt today!

PS We love photos… of you and/or your family members wearing the Tees (and/or out picking) … please email to HuckleberryAssociation@gmail.com and we will get them up on the blog and the Facebook page… thanks in advance!

Happy Huckleberry!

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Now, if I had to pick a town that was the huckleberry capital of the world, I would pick a town in north Idaho or maybe Trout Creek, Montana …. but Jay, Oklahoma??

According to the website, Tulsa World, and along with the Jay, Oklahoma Chamber of Commerce (who I contacted several years back with no response), Jay is the Huckleberry Capital of the World!

Here is what the Tulsa World says about the 49th annual huckleberry celebration:

Jay Chamber of Commerce Huckleberry Festival

 John Klein:  The Huckleberry is King in Jay

… The huckleberry is the state fruit of Idaho. It is celebrated in Trout Creek, a small town in northwestern Montana.

But it is in Jay, the Huckleberry Capital of the World, where the fruit is celebrated like no where else.

The National Huckleberry Festival is this week, the 49th annual celebration of a berry that is found all over the hills around this small town sandwiched between Grand Lake and the Arkansas border…

Huckleberries aren’t as plentiful as they once were in the hills around Jay. The plants have diminished over the years, and not as many folks pick huckleberries. It isn’t exactly easy. Huckleberry bushes often flourish in the most dense areas of vegetation in these hills….

“The huckleberries have a pretty strong flavor, so you have to be careful with them,” Coatney said.

That’s why the berries, often a deep purple to deep blue in color, often give the huckleberry milkshakes a pinkish tint.

“The huckleberries are so strong in flavor that they can overtake a milkshake if you use very many,” Coatney said. “It doesn’t take much.”…

There’s an art to making everything from the huckleberry milkshakes to the huckleberry pies.

“Well, obviously, I can’t tell you the recipe for the milkshakes because it is a secret,” Coatney said. “However, I can tell you that everybody just loves them.

“The huckleberries make a great milkshake. And, pie.”

Check out the full article here and decide for yourself!

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Huckleberry Frozen Parfait

Posted June 23, 2016 By sandy

Summer is here and huckleberry season is right around the corner.

Huckleberry parfait sounds really good about now.

Here is a recipe from one of my favorite huckleberry cookbook:  Huckleberry Delights

Huckleberry Frozen Parfait

Serving Size: 4 to 6 servings

Huckleberry Frozen Parfait

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup huckleberries
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 8 oz. plan yogurt
  • 3 peaches, coarsely chopped

Instructions

  1. In a saucepan stir together huckleberries and sugar
  2. Mix cornstarch and water until smooth; add to huckleberry mixture
  3. Cook over medium hear, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil; boil 1 minute
  4. Remove from heat; stir in lemon juice, then cool
  5. Fold yogurt into cooled huckleberries
  6. In glasses, alternately layer huckleberry mixture with peaches and freeze
  7. Remove from freezer 1/2 before serving
  8. When ready to serve, sprinkle with chopped mint leaves for garnish
http://wildhuckleberry.com/2016/06/23/huckleberry-frozen-parfait/

Enjoy!!

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Huckleberry Cobbler

Posted June 16, 2016 By sandy

Nothing tastes better than a scoop of vanilla ice cream over a warm huckleberry cobbler!  Unless, of course, it is a scoop of huckleberry ice cream over a warm huckleberry cobbler!

I found this wonder recipe on the Tasting Table website:

Huckleberry Cobbler

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 4 - 6 servings, depending on how much you like it!!

Huckleberry Cobbler

Ingredients

    For the Filling:
  • Butter, for greasing
  • 4 cups huckleberries, fresh or frozen
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
  • For the Topping:
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup milk
  • ⅓ cup finely chopped macadamia nuts
  • Vanilla ice cream, for serving

Instructions

  1. Make the filling: Preheat the oven to 350º and grease a 10-inch cast-iron skillet with butter. In a medium bowl, mix together the huckleberries, sugar, cornstarch, lime juice, lime zest, salt and vanilla seeds to coat. Let sit while you prepare the topping.
  2. Make the topping: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Using your fingers, work the butter into the flour mixture until pea-size clumps form. Stir in the milk and macadamia nuts to form a dough.
  3. Toss the berry mixture again now that the sugar has started to pull out the juices of the berries. Transfer to the greased skillet and scoop heaping tablespoonfuls of dough evenly over the filling. Bake until golden and bubbling, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Serve with vanilla ice cream.
http://wildhuckleberry.com/2016/06/16/huckleberry-cobbler-2/

Check out more delicious recipes from the from the Tasting Table Test Kitchen

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