Red and black Huckleberry

The misunderstood Huckleberry, also called Billberry.

Black Huckleberries

Black Huckleberries

Almost everyone I know calls them blueberries. And it makes sense – the berries are blue or black, at least from the blue or black varieties and they look and even taste somewhat like blueberries.

It seems, nobody ever mistakes the red variety .

There are differences between Blue Berries  and Huckleberries.

First of all, you will never find huckleberries in any grocery store. They are not commercially grown.

When you run into them in the woods, the things to look for are:

  • Do the berries grow on the branch in clusters or single and in pairs? Blueberries grow in clusters.

  • Do they contain 10 large, crunchy seeds? Blueberries have many very small seeds.

  • Are the undersides of the leaves slightly sticky? Blueberry leaves are not.

When we lived in North Vancouver, the woods around our house were loaded with red huckleberry bushes. It became a tradition every summer to pick enough of them for one or two huckleberry pies.

Sechelt, Sunshine Coast,British Columbia

Sechelt, Sunshine Coast,British Columbia

Now we live on the sunshine coast and the red variety is pretty spars around here. They, also, only grow to about an altitude of 2500 feet. So I went higher in early September to above 3000 feet and the place looked like a huckleberry farm. There were both blue and black berries in great abundance. It's where the heather meadows begin and the woods are usually first growth and take on that alpine look.

Not only is this a fantastic place to go for a hike, you can also fill a bucket full of berries in a very short time. You could use a blueberry rake for this. I have never tried it myself but I am thinking of buying or making one. You can look them up on the internet.

After getting the berries home, I put them into a big bowl, fill it with water, and swirl the berries around. All the leaves and even the unripe berries float to the top and you can scoop them out.

They are now ready for further processing. We make jam or syrup from them, both of which have a very exquisite taste. Just follow the recipes given on the blackberry page. You might have to use a bit more sugar, since huckleberries are quite tart.

And then of course, there is the opportunity to make a pie again. Both red and black huckleberries make delightful pies

 Ingredients:

  • Pastry for a 9” double crust pie
  • 5 cups of fresh huckleberries
  • ¾ cups of sugar
  • 4 tablespoon of instant tapioca
  • 2 tablespoons of orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons of coarsely chopped orange zest
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon of cream

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 425 degree F.
  • In a sauce pan mix 1 cup of berries with ¾ cup of sugar, orange juice and zest.
  • Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes over medium heat. Allow to cool.
  • Put the remaining berries together with the tapioca in a bowl, add the cooked mixture and stir them in.
  • Pour the filling into the prepared pie shell.
  • Dot with butter and cover with top crust, seal the edges and cut steam vents.
  • Beat the egg together with the cream and brush onto the top crust.
  • Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of sugar.
  • Put into the oven for 15 minutes, reduce heat to 350 degree F and bake for another 3/4 hour or until crust is brown.
  • Cool and serve with ice – or whipping cream.


You will really enjoy these pies - well, at least I know, I do!

You are going to need a guide book to these berries. Get it at the store.

 

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