One of my favorite Fourth of July memories is eating my great-aunt Martha’s huckleberry pie when I was a kid. We’d gather at the family campground by a little river, and eat California delicacies like abalone, venison, and this wonderful pie. Huckleberries are a wild-tasting fruit, tart but sweet. They taste of pine forest and long days with picking buckets. The little fruits hold their texture even when cooked, they pop in your mouth with a satisfying burst: perfect when blended with sugar and a flaky crust.
Huckleberries (Vaccinium ovatum) grow all along the west coast – from Canada to Alaska – but not many people cook with them often since they are so small that picking enough for a pie takes a long time. Look for them in forests and clearings, often on slopes. The shrubs are attractive, with dense shiny foliage of small oval leaves. White lantern-shaped flowers give rise to small, round, dark purple fruit that looks like a small blueberry.
2 responses to “Plant of the day: huckleberry”
Great idea – great blog – just found it. Do you know about the varietal or type that I believe in Jepson is named V. ovatum saporosum?
“Fruit of the variety saporosum reportedly has a better flavor than fruit
of the variety ovatum … The variety saporosum is distinguished by fruit which is glaucous, pear-shaped, and more flavorful than that of the variety ovatum…”
Thanks Matt! No, I hadn’t heard of the saporosum variety. I don’t think I’ve seen it either – but now I’d like to –