The Huckleberry

Huckleberry image

Photo courtesy of wildhuckleberry.com

The fruit itself looks very similar to a blueberry.  The huckleberry is a deciduous or evergreen shrub.  Huckleberry is the common name for two different plant species: Vaccinium (found from Coastal California regions through the Northwestern states of Washington, Idaho and Montana) and Gaylussacia (common in eastern North America).  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.  The fruit also has great health benefits.  If you are concerned about whether the berries you find are safe to eat, I have learned that if it has a crown (like the blueberry) they are safe to eat.

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.

Most folks pick them off the plant by hand or use a ‘rake’. Some worry that inexperienced pickers using huckleberry rakes damage bushes. This can devastate a patch as it takes 5 – 10 years for a plant to mature enough to produce a good bounty of fruit.  If you do opt to use the ‘rake’, I suggest visiting wildhuckleberry.com for instructions for their use.

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 over the last few years.

Huckleberries on a bush

Photo courtesy of Wildhuckleberry.com

Ripe huckleberries

Photograph courtesy of rantfarm.com

the-leaves-red-tint-may-be-because-of-nitrogen-deficiency-late-spring-frost-nip-or-a-cool-summerWildHuckleberries

Photo courtesy of Wildhuckleberry.com

Huckleberry bushes in the mountains

Photo courtesy of Wildhuckleberry.com

Huckleberries ready to pick

Photo courtesy of Wildhuckleberry.com

Huckleberry bush

Photo courtesy of Wildhuckleberry.com

 Picking  and Cleaning Huckleberries
Huckleberry Rake Controversy
Where to Pick Huckleberries in the Northwest

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