Huckleberry Rakes Archive

Do Huckleberry Rakes Kill or Damage Plants?

Posted April 6, 2015 By sandy

Frequently, we receive inquires as to the safety of using rakes to pick huckleberries.  Over the years, we have responded to comments with the facts about the issue.

Last week, we received the following comment from Valerie:

“How rude! When you use the rake you are not telling rakers they are killing the bush.”

Thank you, Valerie, for bringing up a common misconception (even an “urban myth”) about huckleberry picking rakes. It ALWAYS comes from those who’ve never used them, or even seen theA social history of wild huckleberry harvesting in the Pacific Northwestm used.

The blueberry industry has been using rakes to pick commercial berries for several decades, maybe even a century.

Native Americans traditionally harvested huckleberries using rakes carved from wood, or made from the backbone of a salmon or steelhead together with the rib cage on one side.

No one would be using rakes if they even damaged the plants, much less killed them.
The teeth on a huckleberry raking tools are typically set with a 3/16 inch gap. This allows the tiny twigs (huckleberries only grow on the current years growth) to pass through unharmed, but will pop off all but the tiniest berries.

While it is theoretically possible to damage a huckleberry plant with a rake, if misused (after all, you can easily kill someone with a screwdriver, which is not the intended use), doing so would be counter productive. The aggressiveness required to damage a bush would put so much trash into your bucket, that the berries would not be worth trying to pick out of the mess.

You will get a few more leaves with a rake that by hand picking. This is because the leaves huckleberry picking rakeare nearing their traditional leaf fall which occurs every autumn, and using a rake is less selective than hand picking (and bumps the twiglets a bit more). But you get leaves, even with handpicking… and for the same reason.

I guess that when people hear the term “rake” it SOUNDS like a tool that you would SCRAPE against the branches. However, this is far from the case. Berry picking tools are designed to minimize contact with the plant itself, while capturing as many berries as possible.

Which is why even the most environmentally conscious huckleberry lover, probably owns a rake or two… you can easily pick 3x as many berries with the same investment of time and gas into the woods. And if the berries are thick, you can get 10X the berries in the same amount of effort.

See more at the following websites:

And thanks, Valerie, for your comment! We appreciate the opportunity to clear up this common misconception.

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I found this article on the CDA Press website:

Idaho’s state fruit starting to ripen

Idaho has a state flower, a state horse, a state bird, a state fish, a state flag, and…a state fruit. So designated by the Idaho Legislature in 2000, it is the huckleberry.

At this time of year, it is not too surprising that the huckleberry is the state fruit. Just about everybody in North Idaho looks forward to huckleberry picking. Huckleberries freeze well and can provide a very healthy addition to your table or to your breakfast smoothie all year long.

There are several species of huckleberries native to Idaho. The most common and most popular is the “Black,” or “Thin-Leaved” huckleberry. Some plant guides, including “Common Plants of the Inland Pacific Northwest,” a guide written by highly respected and widely recognized plant ecologist Dr. Charles Johnson, call the species “big huckleberry.”

This species grows in moist, cool forested environments at mid to upper elevations. Berries are purple to purplish red and are a quarter to half an inch broad, depending upon the year and the site.

The plants grow up to three feet tall and take up to 15 years to reach full maturity. The single, dark purple berries grow on the shoots the plant produced that year.

I found it very interesting that the article referenced the huckleberry rake we sell:

Several stores in the area carry rectangular boxes with stiff wires on the underside that are made just for picking huckleberries. They are intended to make the rather slow process of picking faster and more efficient. Some people can pick moHuckleberry Picking Rakere with the contraption, others say they can pick just as fast by hand.

There are drawbacks to the use of a picker. Unlike berries picked entirely by hand, those picked with a picker need to be separated at home from the leaves and twigs that are inadvertently picked along with the berries. Personally, I think that I pick berries a little faster with a picker, but the time spent separating afterward probably negates any benefits.

When using a picker, many of the small berries will pass between the wires of a picker and remain on the bush. To be more efficient, some of the picker designs need to have the wires bent in a little so they are closer when picking berries that are on the small side.

Some serious “huck-sters” don’t like for other people to use pickers because they believe the pickers can damage the plants. That perspective may or may not be accurate, and I don’t think there is any clear indication either way.

After much research, we have found that, when used correctly, the huckleberry rakes DO NOT damage the plants.  We even had Dr. Dan Barney (Dr. Huckleberry)  test the rakes for us, and agrees with us.

For more information on using huckleberry rakes, check out Malcolm’s Huckleberry Picking Tips Sheet.

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Huckleberries on the Coast

Posted October 9, 2013 By sandy

“There is no shortage of huckleberry products out there …” writes Linda Stansberry in the North Coast Journal from California.

Linda talks about the many different huckleberry products she has tasted:

I have encountered huckleberry candy and huckleberry barbecue sauce, and last week I drank some huckleberry tea. They’re all disappointing. Nothing matches the taste of an actual, freshly picked huckleberry. These tiny blue-black orbs take forever to ripen, but they have a unique tangy-sweet flavor that makes them perfect for pies and other pastries.

NOTE:  If you are looking for huckleberry products, check out these two websites:

HB Pancake syrup section

She also talks about her picking experience with a Huckleberry Rake:

To my great surprise, the harvester was a success! The claw slid neatly along the branches of the bush and popped the berries off one by one, leaving most of the leaves. Within in an hour I had come close to filling my little plastic container. Granted, the harvester didn’t distinguish from the ripe, the almost ripe and the green, and there were still plenty of leaves and pine needles in my bounty, but I was impressed!

Her story is enjoyable …. and if you can’t find anything else of interest, make sure to check out her Huckleberry-Apple Pie Recipe!!

Enjoy the full article!…. And save me a piece of her pie!!

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Huckleberry Snack Mix

Posted July 3, 2013 By sandy

Nothing beats huckleberry chocolates, but during the hot summers …. well, chocolate is just not a good thing to pack or take on a trip!

But for those who love trail mix, Wildbeary has developed a Huckleberry Snack Mix.

Wildbeary Huckleberry Snack MixLike a trail mix, Huckleberry Snack Mix includes some healthy and wonderfully tasty ingredients:

  • Roasted and salted almonds
  • Organic soy nuts
  • Chocolate covered sunflower seeds
  • Sesame sticks
  • Craisins
  • Sugar Infused Huckleberries

In case you are not familiar with sugar-infused huckleberries, they are fresh picked huckleberries, soaked in a sugar solution and dried slightly to resemble a huckleberry ‘raisin’ — the closest thing to a fresh shelf stable huckleberry.

And if you are concerned with the chocolate covered sunflower seeds, they can withstand a great deal of heat before they melt.

All in all, this product is perfect for summer day snacks.

Where can you order these?  Just check out our Tastes of Idaho site for Wildbeary Huckleberry Snack Mix.  

While you are there, check out some of our other huckleberry goodies!

Also as you know, huckleberry season is just around the corner.  If you have not already ordered your huckleberry picking rake, make sure to check them out as well — we have several in stock right now, but they sell out fast this time of the year!!

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Homemade Huckleberry Rake and Preserves Story

Posted August 20, 2012 By sandy

I love the information and ingenuity of this gal.  Not only does she share some huckleberry preserving methods, she talks about two huckleberry rakes she made.

After all was said and done, she ended up buying one of our rakes (NOTE:  She mentioned that she bought her rake from Amazon.  Because we were shorted rakes this season, we did not offer them on Amazon.  You can still buy them on our Huckleberry Rake website!)

Day 226: Do-it-yourself Huckleberry Rake

…Northwest tribal folk dried huckleberries in large cakes and stacked the cakes until ready to use. I picture great purple wheels, like towers of cheese, stacked to the ceiling in corners of longhouses. When berries where needed, a chunk of a wheel was broken off and reconstituted in water. I’ve also seen recommendations for mashing the berries and spreading them out across a screen to dry in the sun. When the mash is dry, it can be crumbled and sealed in storage containers.  I’ll try this option, as I don’t have a free corner to stack cakes of berries. My least favorite preservation discovery is to store the berries in bacon grease or used cooking oil. Yuck! Now that just sounds nasty, but not when considering the huckleberry’s traditional use as fish bait. I never really thought of the huckleberry as fish bait, but it makes perfect sense. It’s the exact right bite for a #8 trout hook. …

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Huckleberry Rakes can also be found on our Tastes of Idaho site where we still have a few “Child’s” Huckleberry Rakes as well as the standard Huckleberry Rake (pictured above) available!

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Huckleberry Picking Forecast

Posted July 16, 2012 By sandy

Latest Huckleberry Picking Forecast from “Mr. Huckleberry”!

Revised wild huckleberry forecast! After getting several reports, I am expecting a pretty good huckleberry year… best since 2009. Maybe a week or two late due to the long cool spring, but temps higher than 2011’s cold wet spring, so ripening did occur this year. Also, unlike 2011, we are getting some respite from the hot dry weather, with periodic thunderstorms in most areas. High elevation berries probably WILL ripen this year. I am pretty jacked about the season.

Huckleberry picking tools are IN! With the hot weather, the wild huckleberry season might be short. We have a limited supply of huckleberry rakes in stock, they will not last long. Get yours now.

Order your Huckleberry Picking Rake today!

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Wooden Berry Picker

Posted October 24, 2009 By sandy

great uncle henry’s berry picker

HuckPicker4

This tool, this beautiful tool, is a berry picker/berry comb, the only thing I inherited from my great uncle Henry and his wife, my great aunt Mildred….

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Testimonials from Satisfied Rake Customers

Posted August 11, 2009 By sandy

Unsolicited comments from our huckleberry rake customers

I purchased your rake at the General Store in Spokane, WA last week and headed up behind Wallace,ID to do some picking. We love going to Idaho because its so beautiful and the people are always friendly. I have to tell you first that I have Rheumatoid Arthritis in my hands along with other places. The rake was a life saver allowing me to pick for a longer period of time with out much pain in my hands. I also picked three times as much! I recommend this to anyone with arthritis in their hands to make picking berries more enjoyable and ALOT quicker. Plus in does no damage to the bush! You have perfected this product ten fold. Thank you!

Angela Ordway
Spokane, Washington

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Every year a group of ladies and I take a annual camping trip to the mountains to pick huckleberry’s when they get ripe. We took that trip a week before we could order our huckleberry rakes. Each of us working 6 to 7 hours for 2 1/2 days brought home a little over a gallon of berry each.
I oredered and received our rakes the week after we returned from our trip. The rakes came in on a Friday we met to pick on a Sunday. During that approx six hours of picking we took home approx 2 gallons of berrys each. I can only imagine how many more we could have brought home during our camping trip. Next year.
Thanks for this wonderful product and thank you for the lip balm you included. It is yummy and works well to protect the lips.
If I have any complaints about this tool is it can be difficult to use in the middle of a bush, and you have a few extra stems to pick off the berrys, but that is something we usually do when we are sitting around camp.

Tammala Froman
Lebanon, Oregon

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Do Huckleberry Rakes Damage Plants?

Posted July 20, 2009 By sandy

In case you have missed it, there has been a very interesting discussion going on about the use of huckleberry rakes.  Historically, opinions on this issue are strong on both sides and  the discussions here are no different!  Click on the following links to read the posts and/or to post comments of your own!

Original post by Katie:

From katie g on New Huckleberry Rakes In Stock!

Raping the huckleberry plant with a “Huckleberry Rake” should be illegal as these plants are difficult enough to find and …

Response post by “Mr. Huckleberry”:

From Mr. Huckleberry on New Huckleberry Rakes In Stock!

Greetings, Katie, I appreciate your passion for the huckleberry resource! However, if you had ever seen a huckleberry rake used, you would …

After reading the discussions, what are your thoughts?

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New Huckleberry Rakes In Stock!

Posted June 25, 2009 By sandy

Our new shipment of huckleberry rakes are currently in stock!

Huckleberry rake with wire tines

Huckleberry rake with wire tines

Received out pallet load of huckleberry rakes on Monday.  Since we are right on the edge on huckleberry season, we were anxious to get this pallet load ready for delivery to our customers.  But, low and behold, we opened the first case to label and deliver and realized the sent us the WRONG RAKES!!  The pickers we are selling have wire tines whereas the new ones have plastic tines.

NOTE: Huckleberry rake with wire tines that we have been selling is pictured on the left.  The Huckleberry rake with the plastic tines is pictured on the right.

Huckleberry Rake with Plastic Tines

The plastic in the “new” model is very thick, stiff and durable, and yet very pliable, so the rakes are well engineered. Spacing between tines is identical to the metal tines.

Both models were field tested two years ago, and any difference in performance with the metal toothed verses the plastic toothed was negligible.

So, since this was not the rakes we ordered, we received a great deal on this pallet load that we are extending to all of our customers.

Check out our website for details … and happy huckleberry picking!!

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