What are Huckleberries? Where do I find Huckleberries?

The fruit itself looks very similar to a blueberry. The huckleberry is a deciduous or evergreen shrub.  Hucklbeberry is the common name for two different plant species: Vaccinium Parvifolium and Gaylussacia.  The plant grows to about 2- 3 feet tall and thrives in damp acidic soil.  They usually produces ripe, ready to pick fruit between the months of July and August.  Here in North Idaho, they are found at elevations between 2000 and 11000 ft.  They are not commercially grown so picking by hand is how it is done.  If you do not live in a region where you can pick them yourself, it is possible to purchase online if in season.  Out of season here, they are running $30-$40 per gallon frozen.  I don’t think that price has varied much over the last few years.

Huckleberries have a unique sweet taste.  I don’t know anyone that hasn’t taken a liking to them after their first bite.  My dad visited once and after his first huckleberry shake, he went everyday to get one until the day he headed back home.  The fruit can be frozen and used later.  I love them in pancakes.  You can use them like most fruits to make jams, cobblers, pies and syrups.  The best way to eat them is sneaking a few in your mouth right off the plant while picking them.  This does however reduce the amount of berries you get to take home.

 

Visit our post Picking wild huckleberries in the Inland Northwest for more information on finding wild huckleberries.

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My introduction to the huckleberry

Before moving to the Inland Northwest, I had never heard of Huckleberries.  In fact, if you

Huckleberry Bush

Photograph courtesy of rantfarm.com

would have shown them to me before I knew what they were, I would have sworn they were small blueberries.  My first recall of this wonderful fruit was my first opportunity to go Huckleberry picking.  I didn’t have anything else to do on a hot August weekend afternoon.  After a long trek by car into the mountains, followed by a long walk further up that mountain (each of us carrying a bucket), we had finally found our prize.  Well, at first, I wasn’t aware we had found anything.  It wasn’t until I was shown what the plant looked like and folded up the leaves, did I realize what we were looking for.  This particular patch was abundant.  By abundant, I don’t mean that the buckets were filled instantly.  It definitely took the better part of the day to get a few gallons of berries.  We probably could have had a gallon or two more if we weren’t eating along the way.  They were sweet and delicious.

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