When you think of huckleberries, what comes to mind?
If you’re anything like us, maybe you picture rolling mountains, warm summer nights, and Grandma’s favorite pie. But beyond that, we tend to draw a blank.
As it turns out, each of those scenes is totally correct, but there’s so much more to huckleberries and we got the scoop from the pros! We reached out to Tom LaMonte, owner of Northwest Wild Foods — our source for getting the amazing huckleberries used in our huckleberry cheesecake — and he filled us in on this incredible fruit.
Let’s dive in!
Huckleberry vs. Blueberry
The huckleberry is commonly compared to the blueberry — and on the surface, this makes total sense. They come from the same family, but while blueberries are obviously blue, huckleberries are much more vibrant and are often hued red, purple, and even black. And on the inside, the differences continue. The inside fruit of the blueberry is often white-ish in color, while huckleberries keep their jewel tones with a blue interior.
But the differences are much more than skin-deep. Tom describes huckleberries as “blueberries on steroids” with much more sweetness and tang than your average blueberry (YUM!).
We perused Northwest Wild Foods to get the scoop on the incredible health benefits of huckleberries — and for good reason! Huckleberries are fantastic for heart health, eye health, and vascular health, as well as being high in Vitamins C, A and B, iron, and potassium. The benefits just keep coming!
Delicious AND nutritious? What a win! And to make them taste that much sweeter, you can only get them in one place on earth…
The magic all happens in the North Cascades, at elevations between 2,000 and 6,000 feet. “I’ve never seen or heard of [edible] huckleberries from anywhere else but here,” Tom told us. The huckleberry’s peak season occurs from around mid-August to mid-September — and that’s it!
This explains why they’re such a hot commodity.
You’ll never hear of a huckleberry farm, either! “The University of Idaho tried to farm huckleberries for twenty years without success,” Tom explained. “Huckleberries are all wild, foraged in the mountains and grown by Mother Nature!”
No wonder they taste absolutely magical.
Pancakes, Cheesecake, and Salmon – Oh My!
We were curious: what’s the best way to use the huckleberry in cooking?
“We began selling wild blackberries and wild huckleberries to restaurants, as they make a superior dessert,” Tom shared with us. “We then realized the health benefits of the berries later on, and it’s a win-win! Huckleberries go into anything a blueberry could, and will always make it better. Some of our favorites are huckleberry lemonade, huckleberry pancakes, huckleberries mixed into lemon yogurt, and in a huckleberry crisp.” We’re sure you can agree that wow, these sound incredible!
We also found a delicious-sounding recipe for Grilled Salmon with Huckleberry Relish, if you have more of a savory palate. And here’s the good news: even if you’re not able to travel to the North Cascades at an elevation of 2,000-6,000 feet during late August, you can still access incredible wild huckleberries from our friends at Northwest Wild Foods. They sell a variety of berries, both fresh and frozen — and they’re always picked wild and sustainably preserved.
However, if you’re not quite up to another cooking endeavor, we have a solution! You can get the taste of wild-grown, ethically-sourced huckleberries in our Huckleberry Cheesecake, made (as always!) with natural, whole ingredients. It’s the perfect way to get a quick taste of summer as we wait for spring to arrive – and we offer a sugar-free version, too. You can enjoy a fantastic cheesecake, no matter your lifestyle!
Huckleberries just might become our new favorite berry — and for good reason! They offer a wide variety of health benefits, and are the perfect addition to all kinds of recipes, both sweet and savory. Get a taste of huckleberry goodness, and grab a cheesecake to share (or enjoy alone — we’ll never tell).