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Huckleberries

A Taste of Summer

By Dawn SaloisPublished 2 years ago Updated 2 years ago 4 min read
10
Huckleberries
Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Unsplash

Summer has alway been my favorite season. I’ve always loved the longer, warmer days and excitement that comes during a time of year when many people take vacations. No matter what I have planned for summer, I always feel like it’s a time when anything is possible.

As a child growing up in northwestern Montana I associated summer with a lot of great experiences that were just not possible during the rest of the year. Camping, boating, and attending county fairs were all exciting summer activities in my youth.

By Timothy Meinberg on Unsplash

Obviously I loved the whole summer, but my favorite part of summer started in August. It was toward the end of summer that huckleberries became ripe and I got to go pick them. I spent a lot of time with my Aunt Winnie when I was a kid and the huckleberry picking trips usually happened with her. There were often other people who came along, including my parents sometimes, but even when they didn’t go she would still take my sister and me up into the mountains to pick huckleberries.

I recently learned that there are different types of huckleberries, but the ones that grow wild in the mountains of Montana have a sweet, but slightly tart, taste. They have significantly more flavor than regular blueberries. In fact, I have found that I’m disappointed by most blueberries that you can buy in the grocery store, because of my childhood fondness for huckleberries.

As delicious as huckleberries are, they involve a great deal of effort to pick if you want to get a lot of them. They are usually very small and you have to be careful to only pick the ripe ones because they don’t all ripen at the same time. In the years where the summer is especially hot or dry they are even more challenging than usual to find.

The difficult, labor-intensive practice of picking the huckleberries probably makes them taste even better, if I’m being honest. When you spend all day picking them to get a gallon or two (if you’re lucky) you definitely value them more than you would fruit you could just drive to the store and buy.

By Sarah Peters on Unsplash

One huckleberry-picking trip stands out in my memories as my favorite. My sister and I went up to a mountain lake on horseback with my Aunt Winnie and a group of other family members and people we had never met before that day. On the trip to the lake we saw two bear cubs run across the trail in front of us and we knew the mom would likely be coming along very soon, so we got out of there as quickly as possible.

After riding for what felt like several hours we got to our destination. It was a lake that you could not reach by any modern means of transportation and I think it is the most remote place I had ever been.

By Dorothea OLDANI on Unsplash

We spent several hours picking huckleberries, but this trip was a little different. Instead of the tiny berries we were used to picking, the huckleberries were huge. They were about the size of the cultivated blueberries you would find in a grocery store. There also seemed to be an endless supply of them.

After several hours of picking huckleberries we made the long trip home on horseback with our huge haul of huckleberries. I’ve probably never slept better than I did that night.

By Taylor Brandon on Unsplash

You’re probably wondering by this point if I just sat down somewhere and ate all of those huckleberries I picked. Of course I ate some of the berries all by themselves, but that wasn’t my favorite way to eat them.

After all the hours it takes to pick huckleberries the best way to eat them is in a way where you can use as few as possible to enhance the flavor of a food that is much easier to come by. A huckleberry pie is absolutely amazing, but it uses so many huckleberries it seems like something that should be reserved for extremely special occasions.

By Debby Hudson on Unsplash

As a child I loved when my mom would add huckleberries to pancakes. It took a small amount of huckleberries to make the pancake extra delicious.

My favorite way to eat huckleberries, however, is in a cake. The best way to prepare the huckleberry cake is to make your favorite white cake (they are even great in a boxed cake mix) and add the desired amount of huckleberries to it. Instead of frosting, the best topping for the cake is a lightly sweetened whipped cream or even a non-dairy topping. The tartness of the huckleberries beautifully balances the sweetness of the white cake. The whipped cream is a wonderfully light, non-greasy topping.

By Sorin Gheorghita on Unsplash

I do have a warning for anyone who decides to try making a huckleberry cake, though. The acid in the huckleberries has a tendency to eat into a metal pan. I think all of my mother’s metal cake pans had little holes in the bottom from making huckleberry cakes. If you don’t have a glass pan be sure to remove the cake from the metal pan as soon as possible after baking and store it in a glass or plastic container.

I’ve been living in Orange County, California now for over 14 years. No matter how long it’s been since I’ve actually eaten a huckleberry, though, my favorite summer food will always be huckleberry cake. That’s what summer tastes like to me.

diy
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About the Creator

Dawn Salois

Mother of a wonderful son. Writing is a relatively new passion of mine. I love to create my own images. Self-published author of Shadow and Flame.

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Comments (5)

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  • D. A. Ratliff8 months ago

    Your memories of picking huckleberries remind me of my summers as a child picking blackberries and sitting on the back porch with a tiny bowl of sugar and a pail of blackberries. Sweet, tart, and oh-so delicious!! Lovely piece!

  • Babs Iverson2 years ago

    Wonderful summer memories!! 😊 Loved it💕

  • This was amazing!

  • J. Delaney-Howe2 years ago

    Great memories, and the huckleberry cake sounds amazing!

  • Mariann Carroll2 years ago

    Hearted ♥️Now ,I want huckleberry pie, cake and pancake. 😋

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