Cleaning Huckleberries

If you have ever picked wild huckleberries, you know that cleaning them can be a challenge.

We have seen many different methods — some more complicated than others — for cleaning these fragile berries.

I found an article on the Wineforest Wild Foods website that describes some suggested cleaning methods:

Cleaning Wild Huckleberries

A bucket of berries harvested by combing and “beating the bushes” contains many leaves and even smaller unripe green berries. Some people submerge the berries in a bucket then skimming off the floating debris. This is the least desirable method. It water logs the berries and dilutes their flavor. Creating a ramp to roll the berries down is certainly the best way. There are numerous variations on the ramp technique. One nice way is to get a long strip of screen or hardware cloth with holes smaller than the size of your berries. Bend the screen into a long gutter-shape. Raise one end at least three feet higher than the other end which should end in a bucket. Pour the unclean berries down the ramp. Leaves will stick in the screen and the smaller green berries should fall through the screen as they roll downhill.

Another easy ramp is just a pair of boards, in a “V” shape, or an old gutter. Line either with an old blanket. The leaves and twigs stick to the blanket while the berries roll away down into a bucket. If you add little horizontal baffles to the gutter or chute, the big clean berries bounce over these obstacles leaving even more particles and debris behind. It’s reminiscent of gold miner’s chutes. This method works best with the larger mountain huckleberries whose stems break off fairly easily.

The coastal evergreens are not as easy to clean. Because of the tenacious stems, hand-picking makes good sense. I often freeze the berries then clean them while frozen. You roll the berries around with your hands on a sheet pan, the stems fall off easily. Then just shake them in a strainer and the stems will fall through.

Check out the full article for pictures, harvesting and preservation methods


One Comment

  1. Ping from Rose:

    We do a yearly huckleberry camp out, usually about three days, we pick till lunch time then go back to camp have lunch and clean the berries from the morning pick, e use paper plates and roll the berries around a few at a time picking out the debris by hand. Then we go back out for our afternoon pick start all over. It works well for us.

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