Huckleberry News Stories Archive

What are Huckleberries?

Posted February 9, 2017 By sandy

If you are not familiar with our wonderful huckleberries, either you don’t eat fruit or you live under a rock ….  No, seriously, I would like to share some general information about huckleberries.

What are Huckleberries?

Ask Define, shares the following definition of huckleberries:

… Huckleberry is a name used in North America for several plants in two closely related genera in the family Ericaceae: Gaylussacia and Vaccinium. The Huckleberry is the state fruit of Idaho.
 
While some Vaccinium species, such as the Red Huckleberry, are always called huckleberries, other species may be called blueberries or huckleberries depending upon local custom. Usually, the distinction between them is that blueberries have numerous tiny seeds, while huckleberries have 10 larger seeds (making them more difficult to eat)….
 
In the Pacific Northwest of North America, the huckleberry plant can be found in mid-alpine regions, often on the lower slopes of mountains. The plant grows best in damp, acidic soil. Under optimal conditions, huckleberries can be as much as 1.5-2 m (about 5-6.5 feet) high, and usually ripen in mid-to-late summer; later at higher elevations. …
Loveland Report-Herald shares the following information:
 
… If you’ve never seen a wild one, the berries are small and round, 5-10 mm in diameter and look like large (relatively) dark blueberries. Some are tart and some are sweet (much like teenage girls as I recall dimly).

Huckleberries are found tasty by birds, deer, humans and bears. Never disturb a bear with blue/purple chops.

Red huckleberries can be found in the maritime-influenced plant community from coastal Central California to southern Washington and British Columbia. If you wander inward in an easterly direction to the mountains of Montana and Idaho, you will find black and blue huckleberries in mid-alpine regions up to 11,500 feet in elevation.

The plants grow best in damp acidic soil having volcanic origin, explaining their presence in the coastal Northwest. They can grow to heights of one to two meters….

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Origin of “I’m Your Huckleberry”

Posted January 13, 2017 By sandy

Have you ever pondered where the saying, “I’m your huckleberry” came from and what it actually means?

Maybe you remember the line that was made famous by Val Kilmer in the movie:  “Tombstone”.  But where did he get the phrase?

Victoria Wilcox:  The Art of Story website shares some information on the topic:

I’m Your Huckleberry

Historical Background … From World Wide Words: Quite how I’m your huckleberry came out of all that with the sense of the man for the job isn’t obvious. It seems that the word came to be given as a mark of affection or comradeship to one’s partner or sidekick. There is often an identification of oneself as a willing helper or assistant about it, as here in True to Himself, by Edward Stratemeyer, dated 1900: “ ‘I will pay you for whatever you do for me.’ ‘Then I’m your huckleberry. Who are you and what do you want to know?’ ”. Despite the obvious associations, it doesn’t seem to derive directly from Mark Twain’s books….

Literary Background …  (From Walter Noble Burns 1927 novel,Tombstone: An Iliad of the Southwest”).

“They say you’re the gamest man in the Earp crowd, Doc,” Ringo said. “I don’t need but three feet to do my fighting. Here’s my handkerchief. Take hold.”

Holliday took a quick step toward him.

I’m your huckleberry, Ringo,” replied the cheerful doctor. “That’s just my game.”

Holliday put out a hand and grasped the handkerchief. Both men reached for their six-shooters.

“No, you don’t,” cried Mayor Thomas, springing between them. “You’ll fight no handkerchief duel here. There’s been enough killing in Tombstone, and it’s got to stop.”

That ended it. Holliday went into the saloon. Ringo withdrew across the street.

According to Victoria ….

Huckleberries hold a place in archaic American English slang. The tiny size of the berries led to their use as a way of referring to something small, often affectionately as in the lyrics of Moon River. The phrase “a huckleberry over my persimmon” was used to mean “a bit beyond my abilities”. “I’m your huckleberry” is a way of saying that one is just the right person for a given job. The range of slang meanings of huckleberry in the 19th century was fairly large, also referring to significant persons or nice persons.

So, there you have it!

 

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Beware of Bears

Posted August 31, 2016 By sandy

Huckleberries are an important source of food for bears, so if you are out picking, make sure to watch!

Here is a recent story published in the Spokesman Review Outdoors Blog by Rich Landers …

Berry picker suffers bites after surprising grizzly

A park employee, while off duty picking huckleberries in the Swiftcurrent valley, surprised what is believed to be a grizzly bear. She sustained non-life threatening injuries to the leg and the hands. The surprise encounter which led to a non-predatory attack occurred on Saturday in the early evening.

The woman walked most of the Swiftcurrent Pass Trail back before she was met by park rangers an taken to medical help.

She was carrying bear spray but it was not deployed. Hikers reported a grizzly bear sow and two cubs leaving the area shortly after the incident.

The last Glacier National Park visitor injury by a grizzly bear was on Sept. 29, 2015, when a 65-year old male hiker surprised a sow grizzly with two sub-adult cubs, receiving puncture wounds to his lower leg and injuries to his hand.

READ MORE HERE

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Huckleberry Stories in the News

Posted August 18, 2016 By sandy

So many huckleberry stories in the news …. mostly due to the more abundant crop this year.

So many stories, that I think I am going to list several of them here for you to check out:

Berry picking with Huckleberry Hound

By JERRY PAINTER from Post Register

Saturday, my wife, dog and I drove up into the hills past Kelly Canyon, threw up a tent, ate some dinner and went hunting for the tiny purple berries…

Sunny, a golden retriever, snacks on huckleberries in the Kelly Canyon area on Saturday. Sunny is now learning to answer to the name of Huckleberry Hound …

 

Researchers try to unlock berry mysteries

By Sam Wilson at the Daily Inter Lake

Huckleberry enthusiasm has been elevated to obsession in Northwest Montana, where purveyors of the seasonal fruit advertise products ranging from jams, pies, salads and milkshakes to candles, coffee, wine and beer — even huckleberry-flavored cartridges for electronic cigarettes.

Yet for the scientists who know that the berries play a key role in the ecosystems of Northern Rockies, a full understanding of the huckleberry plant remains elusive.

 

THE FOODIE FILES: How I Huckleberry

By Annie Fenn, MD  with the Planet Jackson Hole

NOTE:  This article has a yummy recipe for Huckleberry Chia Seed Jam!!

The problem with the huckleberry season around here is that it arrives in the middle of summer. As soon as I get wind that those wild little berries are in, I make grand plans to head out to the hills and fill my buckets. My intention is always to gather enough huckleberries to keep my family rolling in huckleberry pancakes, pies, and jam all winter long…

 

Huckleberry buyers reveal their secrets

By Lynne Haley at the Bonners Ferry Herald

Even though many of the old mines in North Idaho are long since played out, riches remain for those who know where to find them. The region’s wild huckleberries are ripe for the taking this time of year, and Bonners Ferry residents have a go-to source for turning the fruits of their labor into cold cash…..

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Restoring Huckleberries After Fires

Posted August 10, 2016 By sandy

Last year experienced one of the biggest fire seasons in the Pacific Northwest — including the burning of several acres of huckleberry habitat.  Restoring huckleberries after fires is a concern of every huckleberry picker.

Historically, Native Americans burned huckleberry fields to improve the health of the huckleberry patches.  The Gifford Pinchot National Forest Huckleberry webpage describes this process:

For thousands of years, American Indians spent summer and fall high in the mountains hunting, fishing, picking berries, and celebrating the plentiful gifts of the land. Once every few years, they burned the berry fields after harvest, to kill invading trees and to insure healthy fields the following year. The Indians in this area regarded the rituals of picking, preserving, and eating berries as a cultural and traditional use with religious significance….

Thousands of years ago, uncontrolled wildfires created openings in the vast forest. Huckleberries prospered in the sunlight caused by these natural openings. For countless years, repeated fires caused by lightning or set by Indians killed the invading trees and brush. But the forest is constantly trying to reclaim its lost territory. If it were not for fire, the berry fields of today would have long since been reclaimed by the forest. Today, scientists are trying to determine the best method of maintaining the huckleberries as a valuable forest resource…

Restoring Huckleberries After Fires

In this tradition, the Colville Indian tribe is working to restore huckleberry plants on their reservation in northeast Washington.  The Tribal Tribune posted two stories about this project:

Nearing the one year anniversary of the fire, several Tribal and BIA programs gathered in the burned scarred area of Upper Gold Creek in hopes of reintroducing huckleberries (also known as vaccinium membranaceum) back to the area.

On July 13-14, Jon Meyers Project Lead/Resource Specialist for the BAER Team and History and Archeology accompanied by his staff, Mount Tolman Fire Center, Forestry Reforestation Offices and TANF Summer Youth Workers assigned to Forestry planted 1,880 huckleberry plants purchased from the University of Idaho with funds from the BAER Emergency Stabilization Fund.

If 50 percent of the plants survive, this project will be considered successful.

Read more about their efforts:

 

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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….

READ THE FULL ARTICLE

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Top Huckleberry Articles from 2015

Posted January 1, 2016 By sandy

At the end of the year, I like to look at the stats of my blogs and find out the top articles for the year.

So, if you are interested, here they are:

Where to Buy Huckleberry Plants

Originally written in 2009 and upated in 2014.

Huckleberry Margaritas Recipe

Five Margaritas from Top Arizona Restaurants — inlcluding one huckleberry one!

Huckleberry Rakeshuckleberry picking rake

A page rather than a post, but proves to be a favorite page every year!

Best Huckleberry Wine

Some interesting comments of this recipe!

Huckleberry Jam Recipe

Taken from  The Huckleberry Book by ‘Asta Bowen

Huckleberry Daiquiri

Simple recipe for a wonderful tasting drink!

Huckleberries in Michigan

Here in the upper Rocky Mountain region, huckleberries are famous — but sometimes we forget that huckleberries grow in other parts of the country.  Maybe they are not the same huckleberries that are grown in Idaho and Montana, but huckleberries all the same…

The Wild Mountain Huckleberry

Whortleberry, dewberry, bilberry, blueberry; mountain-this or thinleaved-that; big or blue or dwarf or globe, the huckleberry goes by may names.  It grows wild and only wild, in the remote areas of American’s inland Northwest from Oregon to Alaska, the Pacific Ocean to the Continental Divide…

Ol’ Fashion Huckleberry Pie Recipe

 

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Huckleberry Fever in Asia and Finland

Posted September 18, 2015 By sandy

In the inland Pacific northwest, we think we have the corner on huckleberries. But there are other countries and areas that grow them and use them.

A few weeks ago, we were approached by Rae Ellen Bichell for information on Dr. Dan Barney’s huckleberry research.  Here is excepts from her article on ‘huckleberry fever’:

Asian Countries Have Nordic Berry Fever, And Finland Can’t Keep Up

Right now, some 7,000 Thai workers are combing the Lapland wilderness of Finland and Sweden for bilberries, lingonberries and cloudberries. Each day, they hike into the woods that lie mostly above the Arctic Circle with buckets and simple scooping tools, emerging with up to 270 pounds in berries per person….

Huckleberry Fever in Asia and Finland

Who’s so wild about these intensely flavored berries? Nordic folk load them into pies, jams, breakfast porridge and reindeer meatballs. They make ice cream, juice, and even shampoo out of them.

But there’s another group that’s increasingly driving this wild fruit harvest: health-conscious people in East Asia…

Labels on various lotions and potions sold in Asia — like this dark purple powder — make exaggerated claims that the berries improve night vision, make people smarter, and ward off cancer, obesity, ulcers and heart disease.

But there’s actual science showing that Finnish and Swedish bilberries are packed with more vitamins and antioxidants than North American blueberries. Lingonberries can help prevent urinary tract infections. Cloudberries, the most rare and expensive of the three, may boost intestinal flora and help prevent colon cancer. And, says Rainer Peltola, a senior research scientist at the Finnish Natural Resources Institute, “a berry-rich diet has been connected with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes.”…

The growing market pressure is leading to more discussion about how to develop a more dense and reliable crop farmers could control. And plant researchers and fruit companies are considering another possibility: cultivating the berries similarly to how lowbush, or wild, blueberries are cultivated in North America….

 

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Huckleberry Picking Stories from Around the Region

Posted September 4, 2015 By sandy

Huckleberry picking all over the northwest is sporadic this year due to the early season and the fires.

Pincher Creek Echo reported  the lack of berries at the Castle Mountain Resort in British Columbia:

For some huckleberry picking on Castle Mountain is a long standing tradition … . Despite the lack of berries to pick, the Castle Mountain crew were expecting around 1,000 visitors for the festival this year.

Big Rock Brewery parked their van full of kegs, Castle Ford handed out berry buckets, and a pig roasted in the corner as people made their way to the chairlift and up the mountain.

Spirits remained high, even though there weren’t any huckleberries to be found, and the normally brilliant view was clouded by smoke.

“We’re two weeks to late,” said some visitors, while locals said there weren’t many berries this year in the first place.

Shirley Smith, a seasoned berry picker from B.C. said she could tell by the colour of the leaves that it was too late in the season.

But the chairlift was busy all day with huckleberry hopefuls, cold beer and live music waiting for them when they made their way back down.

According to the video posted by the Global News, picking on Castle Mountain, in previous years, yielded an abundance of berries for pickers.



The Flathead Beacon
reported better news for huckleberry pickers in the Glacier National Park and the Great Bear Wilderness in Montana:

The Danny On Trail meanders through forests of Douglas fir, western larch and spruce while traversing grassy ski runs laced with dense patches of huckleberries that are still ripe for the picking.

The slight winter snowpack and historically dry summer has been tough on the huckleberries throughout the region, but bumper crops of hucks, while sporadic, still pepper the Big Mountain, particularly at higher elevations.

Carry a milk jug on your hike to Flower Point, or take the chairlift and walk to the prominence from the summit while keeping an eye peeled for berries.

 

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Huckleberries and Bumblebees

Posted July 9, 2015 By sandy

Did you know that bumblebees are the prime pollinators for huckleberries?  Not the honey bees!

Huckleberries and bumblebees … I sure did not know that!

According to a Outdoor blog posted on the Spokesman Review …..

Bumblebee may be huckleberry pickers’ best friend

Huckleberries and Bumblebees

Sure, honeybees get the glory and we get their honey,but wild bees (about 150 different species probably occupy northeastern Washington), including bumble bees, pollinate far more crops, including many of those in our gardens, than the honeybee,” says Chris Loggers, wildlife biologist with the Colville National Forest.

“For example, honeybees rarely pollinate that wonderful fruit that most of us pick each year — huckleberries. It appears that bumblebees might be one of huckleberries’ prime pollinators.”

Lets continue to ‘be nice’ to our friends the bumblebees!

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