Huckleberry News Stories Archive

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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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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Huckleberry Forecast from Montana

Posted June 24, 2015 By sandy

After the bumper crop of huckleberries last season, folk are wondering about this year’s huckleberry forecast.

Here is one researcher’s perspective on the Glacier National Park huckleberries:

WEST GLACIER – Tabitha Graves can’t say this will be a bad year for huckleberries, even Huckleberry forecast from Montana though four of the five sites she is monitoring in the West Glacier area show berry production is down 75 percent to 95 percent from last year.

But the fifth is showing the same number of berries as 2014, when a bumper crop was Huckleberry forecast in Montanaproduced after a wet, cool spring.

And Graves, a research ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, doesn’t yet know what the huckleberry crop at higher elevations – where bushes are just popping out from under snow – will be like this summer.

“It could still be a great year if the berries at the higher elevations grow,” Graves says….

The five sites being monitored in the area are among a dozen in the park. Here, the elevation is close to 3,200 feet, but Graves also has sites as high as approximately 6,500 feet – one near Sperry Chalet, where mountain peaks block sunlight for much of the day, and another on (how could she not) Huckleberry Mountain, which is in the open and exposed to much sunlight.

“Some years, the crop will be good in one place and bad in others,” Graves says. Her goal is to figure out why…

To aid the research, Graves has set up remote cameras at all 12 sites that snap pictures, from a distance of 18 inches, of huckleberry bushes four to five times a day throughout the growing season.

She can see them when they’re budding, see them when they’re flowering, see them at the “saucer” stage (so called because “they look like flying saucers,” Graves explains), see them when they resemble tulips, see them when the berries are green, see them when they’re ripe…

The pilot project began last year during the bumper crop, which is why Graves knows that this year, one of her sites has just 5 percent of the berries that were produced last year, three more have just 25 percent, and one is humming along at last year’s rate.

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At this point, it all remains to be seen what happens here and elsewhere with the huckleberry crop.

If anyone has any further information, please share with us.

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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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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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All About Huckleberries

Posted September 26, 2013 By sandy

Huckleberry season is definitely winning down — it appears to have been a good year for huckleberries and those picking them in the wilds!

But it is always time to learn more about huckleberries.

I found this excellent article the other day and wanted to share it with you:

Huckleberries

Wine Forest huckleberries

Vaccininum membranceum/ Globare (complex)’ V. ovatum; Gaylussacia species

The delightful word huckleberry, means one kind of berry in Massachusetts, another kind in Missouri, another in Montana, and yet another at America’s edge along the Mendocino coast. This same charming name is used for at least six species of purple berries. Like the orthodox devotion to one’s regional BBQ, every region knows that their type of huckleberry is superior. I personally adore our Pacific coastal evergreen huckleberries, V. ovatum, while my friends in Montana think I’m crazy to like those tiny tart berry ball compared to their big fat sweet berries.

The article talks further about the huckleberries in three distinct regions:

  • “Mountain” Huckleberry
  • Coastal Evergreen Huckleberry
  • Eastern Huckleberry

Also, there is a section on the following:

  1. Cleaning
  2. Harvesting
  3. Seasonality
  4. Preservation
  5. Cooking
  6. Storage

Check out the complete article

 

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