- Food and Cooking
Wild Huckleberry Lovers
Are you a lover of WILD HUCKLEBERRIES?!
As a independent manufacturers sales representative in and eastern Washington and northwestern Montana, I have lots of exposure to wild huckleberry products and lovers of all things huckleberry. Having living in other states, I did not become acquainted with huckleberries until I moved to north central Idaho in 1992. Boy, was I in for a surprise to find out how much folks love their huckleberries! How about if we share stories and products?
What are huckleberries?
According to 'Asta Bowen, author of The Huckleberry Book, huckleberries (or Bilberries or Whortleberries - name as interchangeable) are "the most sought-after wild fruit in the mountain west, the tangy berry that makes its domestic cousin, the blueberry seem like bland stuff."
Pretty bold statement about this fruit that hides under the branches of other bushes, often on steep hillsides in higher altitudes where the bears like to roam! .... If you have ever picked wild huckleberries, you'll know what I mean ... but still, I agree with 'Asta Bowen! Huckleberries are the most sought-after wild fruit. In part because it is very difficult to domesticate this wild fruit. The University of Idaho's Sandpoint Research Center has been working on raising huckleberries for years (Research Center is closed due to budget cuts)!
Health Benefits of Huckleberries, Bilberries or Whortleberries
Huckleberry are recently become popular as a health supplement. Containing flavanoids, they are high in antioxidant properties.
But don't take it from me, visit the following links to find out more from the experts in this area:
Huckleberry Picking Rakes
Best and safest way to harvest lots of berries
Much controversy about the use of huckleberry rakes is buzzing around huckleberry country. Many say using rakes destroys the plants. What is the real story?
Lee Landers has written an excellent article on the use of huckleberry rakes. In his article, he describes in detail, step by step, the correct way to pick huckleberries with a rake. "Did you know - if the crop is moderate to heavy - you could pick four to ten times as many wild huckleberries in an hour, with an inexpensive tool known as a "huckleberry rake"? he says at the beginning of his article.
Near the end of the article, Landers explains WHAT will damage the huckleberry plants. "But even a rake, just like a hammer or screwdriver, can be misused, and cause damage. he explains.
Ordering information and live video demos are also available for helping you learn to use a rake correctly.
In addition, this rake that is endorsed by Dr. Dan "Huckleberry" Barney of the University of Idaho. Check out the picture on the huckleberry rake website!
Prefer to Buy Your Huckleberry Products?
If you DON'T live where huckleberries grow or you just don't like stomping around the woods looking for them, there are many places on the web where you can buy huckleberry products.
Some of my favorites are these:
** Tastes of Idaho that carries products from numerous Idaho companies
**Gem Berry Products that offers huckleberry and razzleberry (huckleberry raspberry combination)!
On these sites, you will find the standard huckleberry jam or syrup, but also fun items such as huckleberry salsa, huckleberry granola, huckleberry vinegar or vinaigrette, huckleberry candy bars and cordials, huckleberry mustard, huckleberry topping, huckleberry pancake and scone mix, huckleberry coffee, huckleberry soaps and personal care items, huckleberry cookbooks, huckleberry spread (no extra sugar added), huckleberry BBQ sauce, huckleberry lemonade, huckleberry honey, huckleberry cordials, and huckleberry gift packs .... Phew!!
Bet you didn't know so many fun items could be make with huckleberries!!
Looking for some great recipes using huckleberries?
A brand new hardbound Huckleberry Cookbook, complete with beautiful, full-color dust jacket. This eye-catching piece is offered in a "smaller" format, about 6" wide and 7" tall -- very attractive as a gift or to put in your personal cookbook collection!
Just a light sampling of the great recipes in this book, along with OLD STANDBYs' like huckleberry jam, pancakes, ice cream, and pie (with "lattice" crust), includes:
*Baby back ribs with huckleberry barbecue sauce.
*Huckleberry crumb cake.
*Roasted potatoes with thyme and huckleberries.
*Huckleberry coffee cake.
*Huckleberry chicken salad.
*Pan-fried trout with huckleberry-lemon sauce.
*Healthy huckleberry muffins.
PLUS, this recipe book includes information on huckleberry festivals, a smattering of little snippets on huckleberry lore, and dozens of cute illustrations. 112 pages.
If you are a true huckleberry lover ....
.. you might want to check out the International Wild Huckleberry Association where true huckleberry lovers hang out to swap stories, share recipes and find information on different issues affecting huckleberry harvesting and enjoyment!
The Association has two membership levels. One level for folks just wanting to share their stories and check out the recipes and information (FREE!). The second level of membership allows access to the information, but also enrolls you in the Huckleberry of the Month Club. As a member of the Huckleberry of the Month Club, two huckleberry products will be shipped to your door monthly.
Now how's that for a huckleberry lover's deal?.
FAVORITE RECIPE: Huckleberry Blinas (Overnight)
On ole family favorite recipes
In a plastic, wooden, or glass bowl (do not use aluminum)
- 2 cups of flour (heap a bit if you want)
- 1 dry yeast envelop (almost any kind will do)
- Add about two cups lukewarm (not hot) water
- Stir thoroughly, to a soft spongy mass (fun to play with!). Let the batter rest overnight or for several hours in a warm spot - covered with wax paper or a clean towel, so it can "breathe", but unwanted aliens will not fall into the batter.
Huckleberry Blinas, Part Two
In the morning, get your griddle started warming, then to the batter add:
- 3 eggs
- Â¼ cup of sugar
- Dash or two of salt
- Mix thoroughly. (And remember … NON-METAL utensils).
- Put a Â¼ to Â½ teaspoon of baking soda in a small cup or container with 2 - 3 tablespoons or so of hot tap water.
- Dissolve the soda in the water, then add to the batter, and stir. This will cause the batter to rise, full of air bubbles, as some kind of action is going on. (So make sure your bowl is much bigger than your initial batter!)
- Butter or oil your pre-heated fry pan or griddle, and add about Â½ cup of batter to skillet. Tip the pan to spread batter evenly, but not TOO thin, since you want to add berries
- Add a handful of fresh or frozen huckleberries, in the pattern and density you prefer. Jiggle the pan a little bit to help the batter cover the tops of the berries.
- (Or you can just add berries to the batter, prior to pouring if you prefer… but not as much artistry involved, LOL.)
- Brown one side, flip and brown the second side. I prefer these with maple syrup or honey, but they work with just about anything. Powdered sugar and butter is pretty good too!
- (SIDE NOTE: If you make these without putting in huckleberries or goodies - you want them REALLY thin. Then you can add brown or powdered sugar, jelly, honey or syrup - with butter of course! - then roll them up and eat them with a fork or like a burrito! YUM!
- To get them thin, when you are serving WITHOUT huckleberries, pour batter onto the hot oiled griddle, then lift and turn the griddle in various gyrations to get a thin coating of the blina over the bottom of the pan, almost like a crepe. They should be around a Â¼ inch thick or less, when cooked through.
- But again, if you are adding huckleberries, you want a little thicker pancake, as the berries will sit too far above the pancake, and tend to stick to the pan when you flip them, and/or roll out when you serve them.)
Our Favorite Huckleberry Links
- Huckleberry Picking Rake
Ways to properly use a huckleberry rake. Also links to purchase rake page.
- International Wild Huckleberry Association's Blog
Place for huckleberry lovers to share recipes and learn more about huckleberries.
- Tastes of Idaho
A place to purchase numerous huckleberry products made in Idaho!