Harvesting and processing your huckleberries
Harvesting and Storing Your Fruit
Huckleberries start fruiting three to six years after sowing or starting plants from cuttings. Full production may require 10 to 15 years. Pick berries when they are fully ripe but before they begin to shrivel. Refrigerate the fruit as quickly as possible after harvest. Unlike domestic blueberries, huckleberry skins tear when the berries are picked. The torn skins allow juices to leak and promote rotting. If the berries are dusty or contaminated with insects, leaves, or debris, rinse the fruit in potable water and drain before refrigerating. Use or freeze the fruit quickly to avoid loss of quality and rotting. Frozen huckleberries retain their flavor for several years.
Huckleberries are processed into many products. Among the most popular are syrups, jams, candies, pies, muffins, pancakes, salad dressings, and herbal teas. Nonfood products include soaps, lotions, shampoos, and candles. Huckleberries can be substituted into blueberry recipes. If the wild huckleberry flavor is too strong for a particular recipe, use half blueberries and half huckleberries. Extracting juice for syrups is quite easy as huckleberries have little pulp. Three cups of berries produce about two cups of juice.
This fact sheet is contributed by Dr. Danny L. Barney. Dr. Barney is a Professor of Horticulture and Extension Horticulturist specializing in small fruit and ornamental crops, and serves as Superintendent of the University of Idaho Sandpoint Research & Extension Center.