Picking and Cleaning Huckleberries

Tips for picking huckleberries

So out in the woods, enjoying the fresh air and the beautiful sights. But now you want to take some of these wonderful berries home? Some suggest baggies like zip lock bags. These are fine if you want to make smoothies or milkshakes as a they are fragile and could be damaged in transit. But if you want to leave your options open till you get home, I suggest a hard side cooler of some sort.

Now when you are out picking the berries it is going to be in the hottest part of the season, so putting the warm berries in a cold container will cause them to burst. No rush to cool them off, and don’t worry about cleaning them. In fact the leaves will work well to insulate and cushion the berries until you get home, leave those there!

Tips for cleaning huckleberries

Once you get home, you are ready to clean out the stems, leaves and insects that somehow ended up in your bucket. Everyone that I have gone picking with has their own way to clean them, and I am going to present a few:

The most basic suggesting for cleaning is pouring the berries out on a cookie sheet, and then pick out the berries by hand. This is a very simple process, however it’s a bit time consuming, and asking friends or family for help will shorten your yield!

Another option is to simply dunk the berries into a bucket filled with water. The berries will sink to the bottom and most of the bugs, stems and leaves will float up to the top. This is a great way to clean out the berries, it’s less time consuming, and does a pretty good job at getting them clean. My only complaint about this is it can water-log the berries, and if you toss them right into the freezer you will end up with clumps of berries when it comes time to pulling some out.

My favorite is something that requires a bit of ingenuity. This process is almost like sluicing for gold. You take berries and slide them down an incline, and the basic idea is that the berries will roll down the incline and sticks, stems, and leaves will be left behind.

Tips for storing huckleberries

As for freezing them, simply putting them all in a bag and then in the freezer works well, if you are looking to sell them some places will assume that part of the bag is water if they were cleaned by dunking them.

If you pour out the berries on to a cookie sheet, into a single layer of berries they will freeze faster and not clump up when it comes time to pull some out of the freezer.