Posted July 17, 2014 By sandy
I found this article on the CDA Press website:
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 more 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.
Posted September 4, 2013 By sandy
Most of us love huckleberries — but do you know the History of Huckleberries?
Always looking for some good huckleberry articles to feature here, I found the following article from the What’s Cooking America’s website.
Here are some interesting facts from the article:
Did You Know?
*Evidence has been found the the huckleberry actually got its name from a simple mistake. Early American colonist, upon encountering the native American berry, misidentified it as the European blueberry known as the “hurtleberry,” by which name it was called until around 1670 it was corrupted to become know as the “huckleberry.”
*Often confused with the blueberry due to its close resemblance, huckleberries are a wild blue-black berry. Although very similar in taste, the big difference is the seeds within the huckleberry that give it a crunchy texture when fresh and its thicker skin. The flavor is a little more tart than blueberries, with an intense blueberry flavor.
*Huckleberries have been a staple of life for Northwest and Rocky Mountain Native American tribes for thousands of years. In the Journals of Lewis and Clark, they wrote of the tribes west of the Rocky Mountains using dried berries extensively in 1806 and 1806.
*Northwest tribes made special combs of wood or salmon backbones to strip huckleberries off the bushes. They dried the berries in the sun or smoked them and then mashed them into cakes and wrapped these in leaves or bark for storage.
READ FULL ARTICLE
And while you are on the site, make sure to click on the link to access her huckleberry pie recipe!
Posted August 29, 2013 By sandy
As you know, we sell huckleberry picking rakes. Rakes can increase your yield 4 to 10 times in the same amount of time as picking by hand. Our rakes, in particular, are light weight and easy to use.
(If you want more info on our huckleberry rakes, check out our website, Huckleberry Rake. where you will find videos, pictures and written instructions.)
But too much mis-information floats around the web and elsewhere about huckleberry picking rakes. Rather than list all the reasons why huckleberry rakes are safe, I have prepared a mini-website that addresses those issues here: Huckleberry Picking Tool Myths.
Over the years, we have worked with Dr. Dan Barney — affectionately known as Dr. Huckleberry — who was the leading expert on huckleberries at the University of Idaho. He not only tested our rakes, he also endorsed them (info on the site noted above). Unfortunately, the UI closed his huckleberry project in Sandpoint a few years ago and he is else doing other plant related research.
Then only location we are aware of that bans the use of huckleberry picking rakes is the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in Washington. (There has been a report that they are also banned in some places in Oregon, but we have been unable to confirm the report at this time.)
The Forest Service Gifford Pinchot National Forest site is filled with interesting information on huckleberries such as:
- Changes in Washington law regarding the sale of Wild Huckleberries
- History of huckleberries
- Development of berry fields
- Safety while picking
- Questions and Answers about huckleberries
Should you decide to pick huckleberries (or any other berry or forest grown items) on forest service lands or national forests, I suggest you check with the local forest service office for details and regulations.
In the meantime, enjoy your berries!!
Posted August 15, 2013 By sandy
The Olympian share that huckleberries are ripe in parts of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in southern Washington.
For those wanting to pick in this area need to be aware of a couple regulations:
- Picking berries for personal use is free, but commercial pickers must obtain a permit.
- Pickers harvesting more than three gallons, or selling any quantity, must obtain a permit.
- The use of rakes or other mechanical picking devices are not allowed on the forest.
- Areas closed to personal or commercial pickers include the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, legislated Wilderness Areas and the “Handshake Agreement” area of Sawtooth Berry Fields.
The article does describe a few areas where pickers can find huckleberry bushes (a most guarded secret for most people).
Check out the ENTIRE ARTICLE for more details.
Posted August 13, 2013 By sandy
As the huckleberry season progresses, we are receiving reports about huckleberries from all over the Rocky Mountain region. In the last week, two article about Huckleberries in Montana were published.
Our first story warns pickers about huckleberries and bears!
BOZEMAN, Mont. – It’s huckleberry season in Montana, and people aren’t the only ones looking for the sweet treats. Bears love them, too.
Surprise encounters aren’t good for either party, said wildlife biologist Erin Edge, Rockies and Plains associate for Defenders of Wildlife, so it’s best to be “bear aware” if out harvesting the fruit – and let the bears know you’re there.
“Talk while you’re in areas that are dense with brush, have berries around, anytime you’re in bear habitat,” Edge said.
READ FULL STORY
Our second story includes a video interview from a store in the Flathead, Montana area:
Like cherries, huckleberries are a favorite fruit of many in the flathead.
The season has been underway for just a few weeks, and since they are a wild fruit, you have to head out into the wilderness to find them.
We wanted to find out what the crop was looking like this year, so we went out toward Hungry Horse where we’re told there are a lot of huckleberries growing. After combing the sides of the roads and hiking into the trails a little bit, we didn’t find many, meaning pickers have already made their way there.
READ FULL STORY
How is the huckleberry crop in your part of the world?
We would love it if you share your story with us!
Posted July 31, 2013 By sandy
Upon my search for huckleberry information, I ran across this article from last fall. Although the article is nearly a year old, it offers some good information and tips on picking huckleberries.
The article is written by John Reid who is a University of Calgary Faculty of Kinesiology graduate and Precision Nutrition Certified Sports Nutritionist
Here are some of the highlights of his article:
Here are some berry picking tips (and no-nos):
- Picking berries in a national park is prohibited. Provincial parks allow it with verbal approval from a conservation office. If you aren’t in a park, or on private land, pick away.
- Remember that berries are a valuable food source for other wildlife, pick only enough for yourself. Four cups is a good rule of thumb.
- Always, always, ALWAYS bring bear spray. Keep it on your belt and know how to use it.
- If you do see wildlife, leave immediately and try not to disturb it. Berries are their food and you’re in their area.
- Do not damage the rest of the plant when picking. Leave unripe berries, leaves and branches on the plant.
- Bring lots of water and sun protection. You can dehydrate fast when you’re pickin’ hard.
- Don’t pick or eat berries you can’t identify.
- Try not to eat them faster than you can pick them…
READ THE FULL ARTICLE
Posted July 23, 2013 By sandy
An update on the huckleberry crop via the Spokane Review:
Picture taken by “Mr. Huckleberry” on his trip to north Idaho for huckleberries!!
FORESTS – Huckleberries, designated Idaho’s state fruit in 2000, have been ripe for picking for a couple weeks in the low areas of Priest Lake, and the crop is gradually ripening up the mountain slopes throughout the Inland Northwest.
Don’t set your purple-tongue ambitions too high, yet.
Outdoors editor Rich Landers found ripe huckleberries for the first hour of hiking up Scotchman Peak Trail 65 northeast of Lake Pend Oreille on Thursday with lots of green berries above that to satisfy berry pickers in the prime picking period of August.
Savvy huckleberry pluckers know certain high areas, such as the Roman Nose Peak region in the Selkirks, are harvest-perfect in September.
Huckleberries flourish in several varieties across the region, from the deep-purple lowbush types in the east Cascades and Pasayten Wilderness to the tiny grouse huckleberry (a.k.a. grouse whortleberry) that grows on 10-inch high, small-leaf plants at or above timberline in the Selkirks and Bitterroots.
The ”big huckleberry” (a.k.a. black or thin-leaved) is the most popular berry in the Idaho Panhandle. This species grows in moist, cool forested environments at mid to upper elevations. 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, according to plant ecologist Charles Johnson….
Bears can be expected anywhere berries are ripe. Pickers should carry bear spray as a precaution.
READ FULL STORY
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 ….
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:
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!)