Huckleberries

Montana is known for vast skies, diverse wildlife, and huckleberry everything. A huckleberry is a common name for small berries that look like blueberries and domesticating them has eluded researchers for decades. For that reason, you can only harvest them in the wild. 

Where to Find Huckleberries

Huckleberries can be found in the coniferous forests of western Montana. This berry’s hungry admirers include grizzly bears, red foxes, pika, birds, and humans. In mid to late summer, huckleberry pickers set off to their favorite spots in hopes of harvesting their favorite wild berry. Just like good hunting, fishing, and mushroom foraging spots, many locals keep where they find their stash a secret. Part of the experience is getting outside and exploring.

Huckleberries typically live between 3,000–7,500 feet in forested areas that have been disturbed in a way that opens the canopy to allow more sunlight to reach the underbrush. Good places to look for huckleberries are around lake basins, old burn zones, ski trails, and old logging areas.

Related to the blueberry, there are 7 different huckleberry species in Montana, but the most common is the Mountain Huckleberry. When ripe, huckleberries can be found in hues ranging from red to purple and blue. If you aren’t able to harvest huckleberries during the summer months yourself, you can find them at farm stands around Montana and in the frozen section of supermarkets. You can also order them online and shipped directly to your door. Just be prepared to pay a pretty penny for this hand-picked, premium berry.

In the Kitchen

Even though they are smaller than commercial berries, huckleberries are tart and sweet with a more concentrated flavor. You can find huckleberries in jams, sauces, chocolate, candy, ice cream, tea, honey, and more. They are also often found in goods made by artisan bakers around Montana.

Huckleberries can be used in cooking the same way you would use blueberries. We love to incorporate huckleberries in muffins and cakes, like this lemon blueberry cake. They are also delicious incorporated into salads and vinaigrettes, like this huckleberry dressing. But, one of our favorite ways to enjoy huckleberries is by making these super fluffy pancakes. They are soft, thick, delicious, and simple to make. A big stack of these topped with butter and syrup will make all your weekend morning brunch dreams come true.

Fluffy Huckleberry Pancakes

Servings: 8-12
Vegetarian

Ingredients
2 cups flour
4 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1.5 cups buttermilk (or 1.5 cups milk of choice + 4 Tbsp white vinegar)
2 eggs
4 Tbsp melted butter or oil
1 tsp vanilla extract (optional, but highly recommended)
1-2 cups huckleberries (can also substitute other berries)
Butter for the pan

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together.
  2. Add in the buttermilk, eggs, melted butter or oil, and vanilla extract, and stir until just combined.
  3. Preheat a nonstick pan over medium heat. Once it’s hot, lightly grease the pan with a small pad of butter.
  4. Use a measuring cup to pour 1/3 cup of batter into the hot skillet. Arrange a small handful of huckleberries on top. Wait to flip until you see little bubbles form. Cook on the other side for 2 minutes or until cooked through.
  5. Serve with more butter and maple syrup. Enjoy!

Find more seasonal recipes at The MT Plate.


Tracee Hume is a Registered Dietitian and Bozeman-based Communications Coordinator for Abundant Montana. She loves making a mess in her kitchen, but doesn’t love cleaning it up. Send her your favorite recipes at [email protected]!

Abundant Montana is a Program of AERO (Alternative Energy Resources Organization), a 501(c)3 Non-Profit

Mailing address: PO Box 1558, Helena, MT 59624
Physical address: 32 S Ewing St #333, Helena, MT 59601