Personal Stories Archive

More Huckleberry Stories

Posted August 14, 2014 By sandy

With the abundance of huckleberries this year, also comes an abundance of huckleberry stories.  Sharing personal stories — and even poems — about this beloved berry is fun and entertaining to huckleberry lovers everywhere.

Wine Forest h

Greg Toffefson, writer for the Missoulian starts out with his story:

Huck fever brings memories of harvest queen

One morning last week, I found myself sitting in the middle of a huckleberry patch somewhere in the Swan Range slowly filling a plastic bucket with juicy purple berries. In case you aren’t tuned in to the berry situation, this is a bumper crop year. Every picking expedition is an extravaganza of excess. The picking is easy. All around me that morning, bushes hung heavy with berries.

Nearby, my brother Steve, who I could locate in the undergrowth only because his floppy hat was visible above the bushes, was filling his own bucket. Just down the slope a ways, my brother Val, my niece Jenny and her daughter Iris were all engrossed in gathering berries.

I could not help thinking about the fact that such activities are the stuff that links generations of us together, and that thought prompted me when I got home to resurrect the first column I ever wrote about huckleberries a quarter-century ago. Here is what I had to say …

About this time every year a purple haze settles over western Montana. Unless you or someone close to you is directly affected, you may not even notice. If you aren’t oblivious to it, you probably know it’s a little understood phenomenon. The physiological effects are unknown. They have never been studied. And the possible psychological implications, though they sometimes seem overwhelming, are only conjecture.

I’m talking about the dreaded HUCKLEBERRY FEVER….

CUTE STORY CONTINUES HERE

Theresa Hupp shares the next story on her blog:

A Picture I Wish I Had: A Baby and Huckleberries


A friend of mine in Washington State recently posted a picture of huckleberries she had picked. Now those of you who don’t live in the West may not even know what huckleberries are. You’ve heard of Huckleberry Finn, but did you ever wonder where the Huckleberry in his name came from?

(Actually, a little research indicates that some huckleberry varieties grow in the East also, but I will take a parochial attitude in this post and tell you that they can’t possibly be as good as western huckleberries.)

Huckleberries look like blueberries, but are smaller. And sweeter, in my opinion. And purple through and through. They are highly sought after by discerning humans and bears.

Huckleberries have not been domesticated, but have been picked in the wild from time immemorial until today. They are rampant in the hills around Coeur d’Alene Lake in Idaho.

READ WHAT HAPPENED TO HER BABY BROTHER IN THE YELLOW WINDBREAKER

Last, but not least, is an story by Rick Landers with the Spokesman Review sharing several huckleberry haikus:

Berry-picking readers enjoy penning purple prose

…On a whim, I asked readers if a forest festooned with an incredible profusion of berries could inspire literary achievement in addition to overactive salivary glands. Dozens responded.

Readers of the Spokesman-Review turned out to be well-versed in the art of huckleberry picking. It’s in our blood, not just stained on our fingers and tongues.

I’ve often been haunted by three-line, five-seven-five-syllable haikus that pop into my mind while huckleberry picking, especially when I’ve been with my kids …

Living the moment

The bucket half full

betrayed by a purple tongue

She bears little fruit…

ENJOY MORE HUCKLEBERY HAIKUS HERE

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Huckleberry Picking 2014!!

Posted August 5, 2014 By sandy

With the ‘bonkers’ huckleberry season, picking stories are becoming as abundant as the berries.  Huckleberry picking is a fun adventure for outdoor enthusiasts and most love to share their stories — but not their private picking spot or their precious huckleberry stash!!

Huckleberries 2 rd

Two stories in particular stood out — sharing here:

Huckleberry Heaven

Meet the people who hunt down the elusive Northwest treat

…When you move to or visit the Inland Northwest, you are quickly initiated into huckleberry culture. From drive-throughs to fine dining, huckleberries feature prominently on menus in the summer months. The variety of huckleberry products available year-round at country markets and groceries is vast, if not a little obsessive. Tea, taffy, barbecue sauce, gummy candy, jams, jellies, syrups, all varieties of baked goods and even lip balm line shelves, providing huckleberry fans with accessibility to the popular and distinctively local berry any time of year.

Becoming a huckleberry devotee takes little effort. The perfume and flavor of huckleberries are like no other, and the enigmatic nature of the shrubs — they require specific soil conditions, temperatures and elevations to thrive — give them a certain mythical status. Late spring freezes can destroy entire huckleberry stands, and domesticating the bush has been virtually impossible….

READ THE FULL STORY

Our second story is really cute — featuring a two-year old and many pictures!  I especially liked the picture of their metal picker!

Huckleberries!

It’s huckleberry season in the Kootenays! Add in a two-year-old, and the fun multiplies. Handling the supply of honey buckets on the trip up the mountain in the backseat of Grampa’s truck occupied her endlessly!

READ THE FULL STORY

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With the wonderful huckleberry season we are experiencing in the Rocky Mountain region, articles about huckleberries are cropping up almost daily!

The Montana Homestead website posted a great article on foraging, cleaning and preserving huckleberries that is a wonderful guide for newbies and experienced pickers.

Here are some of the highlights from the article:

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Foraging and Preserving Huckleberries

Foraging For Huckleberries

In the past, we  just picked huckleberries by hand. We used these homemade berry picking buckets that worked great. They are made out of plastic one gallon juice or vinegar containers cut off at the top. We made a slit in the plastic sides and tied a long piece of hemp cord to each side to create a strap. These homemade berry picking buckets work great to free up both hands for picking….

Cleaning Huckleberries

To clean the huckleberries, I pour them into a large bowl and cover them with water. The leaves and stems float to the top. This makes it easy to scoop them off the top with my hands and put them in the pile to be composted. Once the leaves and sticks have been removed from the water, look for any green unripe berries to remove. …

Preserving Huckleberries

The easiest way to preserve huckleberries is to freeze them. I’ve tried a couple different techniques over the years and found the simple easy way has worked the best. …

…after I clean the huckleberries and let them dry in the colander, I pack them directly into zip close plastic bags. I pack two cups in each bag and use the DIY method of vacuum sealing I mentioned in this post. Packing the huckleberries into bags this way without pre-freezing them on a cookie sheet is quick and easy. We never have issues with the huckleberries sticking together doing it this way. We also don’t have any issues with the huckleberries getting freezer burnt since we let them dry out before being packed into bags.

 READ THE FULL ARTICLE

 

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Mining Huckleberries?

Posted July 26, 2014 By sandy

The Spokesman Review is entertaining us with another interesting article on huckleberry picking — or mining huckleberries!  And this guy has obviously been there ….

800px-Vaccinium_membranaceum_Fruit

Mining for purple: Huckleberry pickers wear stains with pride

By Alan Liere

…Huckleberry stains are among the worst ever, soaking through jeans and even underwear, but they are an indication of a successful day picking. These butt stains are not as impressive as a tattoo of a three-headed, fire-breathing serpent wrapped around a sailing ship, of course, but they are worn proudly and last about a week. On bare skin, they create an interesting purple pattern that looks like a massive hematoma.

Some folks count their money. Others count their huckleberries. Those who do not pick huckleberries have no idea what is involved. Otherwise intelligent, reasonable folks have said to me, “You’re going huckleberry picking? I just love huckleberries! Pick me enough for a couple pies.”

“A couple” huckleberry pies take a half gallon of huckleberries. That’s two hours (in a great year) of sitting in a patch or bending over low bushes on a side hill in the woods, sweating, swatting back flies, and listening to the depressingly slow “plink” of a small purple berry hitting the bottom of a metal bucket. Pick you enough for a couple pies, indeed! And while I’m at it, why don’t I pick you up a couple nice ribeye and a bottle of Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon? ….

READ THE REST OF THIS HUMOROUS STORY

Huckleberry zucchini pie, anyone???

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Harvey, the Huckleberry, Speaks Out on Abuse

Posted March 26, 2014 By sandy

Hi, my name is Harvey. I’m a wild huckleberry.

This is my story.

I was raised, with my siblings, in the beautiful, for­ested mountains of rural Idaho, Huckleberry bushmuch like where you probably live.

Sure, we were not the largest huckleberries on the hill — maybe not even the sweetest — but we lived in harmony with the mosquitoes, and occasionally shared a meal with a black bear or jay.

One day, when I was a teenager, and nearing the prime of my life, a group of purple-fingered bandits came through our community patch, and kidnapped us — my entire family, and ALL of my kinfolk! I think only my sister Henrietta was spared, by jumping from a fumble-fingered bandit, then hiding in the grass.

We were then dumped, unceremoniously, into a large, stifling box, moved by car to a holding facility, and nearly drowned in ice water, where we were stripped of our green, leafy wardrobe. Then they threw us into tiny cells in a facility with NO HEATING or oxygen! I choked and shivered for DAYS.

Then they started coming to get us… slowly at first, then in buckets.

The first tale of abuse, came from smothering in bat­ter, and dropping onto hot oil, while those heartless bandits laughed and cheered in anticipation of our de­mise.

Then, victims were rolled in sweet white sand, and BOILED, before dislocation to glass cells. Others were forced to desegregate, and share living quarters with granola, flour, popcorn, apples, jalapenos, honey, ginger, poppyseeds, fruit juices, and even… our poor tasteless cousin, the blueberry! Gasp!

Some of my closest cousins were boiled in acid, and labeled as lemonade or dressing. Many of us were pulverized, and smashed into confections. I still have nightmares of those grinning little bug-eyed bandits with purple slobber drooling off their chins, while chew­ing on my friends, and making horrifying “ummm” sounds.

On my dad’s side of the family, many were suffo­cated in various colors of chocolate, and wrapped in a cold, aluminum blankets. Some were CAFFEINATED, in tea or coffee, and forced to lay awake for weeks.

This can’t continue… I MUST find a way to escape.

Oh no… MY CELL is moving now. Maybe this is it, my time to get away. Yes, we are heading toward the door. The bandit is leaning over and unzipping our cell, YES… but wait, no – what is that boiling liquid? I’m falling—

Oh, oh! Looks like Harvey got himself into a jam. (Excuse the pun.) Hopefully, he will not be back, to share his tale of abuse in someone’s digestive tract.

In the meantime, TASTES OF IDAHO – where all the huckleberry goodies Harvey mentioned can be found – would like to re-assure you that, in spite of the allegations, Harvey and his family were treated humanely. All berries used in prod­ucts at TASTES OF IDAHO are certified natural, free range, fair trade, cage free, no spray, sus­tainably harvested, no animal testing (except for bears), and healthy (as long as you don’t read the ingredients labels!)

To enjoy the further adventures of Harvey, please stop by our store www.TastesofIdaho.com and turn wild huckleberries into a key part of your gift giving and get-togethers. After all, wild huckleberries are the IDAHO STATE FRUIT. Don’t get to Christmas without huckleberries in your holiday!

 

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Huckleberries Picking in Oregon

Posted September 7, 2012 By sandy

Huckleberry season here in Idaho/Montana is just about over, but from what I have been hearing on the web, it is in full swing in Oregon and northern California.

Check out the post by Melissa Trainer who is ….

Going Wild for Huckleberries in the Pacific Northwest

If you are interested in gathering wild huckleberries throughout the Pacific Northwest (including Alaska, Montana and Idaho) this August and September, here are a few tips and resources for doing so:

Huckleberries

Where to find them: Huckleberries can be found in Northwest coastal and subalpine areas with abundant sunshine (blueberries, a closely related plant, has a much wider distribution in North America). Many clearcut areas have berries, but note that many prime locations get picked quickly. Ask a forest or park ranger for suggestions on trails where you can find them, or use the resources below.

When to pick them: Huckleberries reach their peak in mid-August and September.

Picking tips: Both birds and bears love to gorge on these berries, too. So, make noise and be bear aware while foraging and picking. Don’t overpick; leave plenty behind for the local wildlife.

Picture and article courtesy of REI and Melissa Trainer!

(Make sure to check out Melissa’s huckleberry pancakes!)

 

 

 

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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. …

READ FULL POST

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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Cute Huckleberry Picking Story

Posted August 19, 2012 By sandy

I love these cute little Huckleberry Stories — folks sharing their adventures.

Huckleberries: The Hunt


By Chaya  |   August 15, 2012

Huckleberry Love

or

For the Love of Huckleberries

I wanted to go huckleberry picking.  Last year,  I was determined to go.  I spent time reading blogs and the Forestry Service pages about what to look for, what types of places to look, and what to do if I saw a bear.

So I called a friend to go with me. …

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Hope your huckleberry picking did not end up with mostly leaves like in this picture!!

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What NOT to Do When Picking Huckleberries

Posted August 18, 2012 By sandy

Despite warnings and articles on the web and in print, some folks STILL don’t understand how to pick huckleberries.

The following article is an example:

Fools, Huckleberry Bushes Don’t Mix

Posted by DFO

I pulled into Dairy Queen on Appleway in Coeur d’Alene recently with a buddy for something cool … and instead ended up hot under the collar.

There in the parking lot was a North Idaho pick-up truck, the bed piled with huckleberry bushes that had been sheared off in the forests for their prized fruit. The culprits and a car-load or two of friends were “picking” berries in the DQ parking lot, then taking them inside for an illegal huckleberry parfait.

Shame on you! I wish I’d written down your license plates! You might think you’re making easy work for yourself, but you’re not only breaking the law, you’re giving a bad name to the rest of us who look forward to REAL huckleberry picking, AND you’re killing a truck-load of bushes that likely will never produce again, or at least won’t for decades

READ FULL POST — including comments

Tips for picking huckleberries without damaging the plants

More info on picking huckleberries

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Huckleberry Memories

Posted August 10, 2012 By sandy

Love these ol’ Huckleberry Memories …

Berries: Luscious delicacies, free for the picking

BY BOB ANN BRELAND Between Friends

As children, one of our favorite things to do this time of year was to roam the woods around our house searching for huckleberries. We started before they started to get ripe, because to us, green huckleberries were the best. It was only by circumstance that any survived to get ripe. …

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