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Evergreen Huckleberry · Vaccinium ovatum

evergreen huckleberry
Vaccinium ovatum ©Ellen Mast

Description: This slow-growing, evergreen shrub with copper-colored new growth has delicious blue berries in late summer, enjoyed by humans and wildlife alike. Huckleberries ripen with the return of the fall chinook. Evergreen huckleberry can reach 15 feet, but it can also be kept smaller with pruning & greater sun exposure. A handsome choice for woodland gardens, berry patches, and even containers. Part sun/shade, regular water, acidic soil.
On January 26, 1806, Lewis wrote in his journal "this shrub retains its verdure very perfectly during the winter and is a beautiful shrub.-the natives either eat these berrys when ripe immediately from the bushes or dryed in the sun or by means of their sw{e}ating kilns; very frequently they pound them and bake them in large loaves of 10 or fifteen pounds; this bread keeps very well during one season and retains the moist jeucies of the fruit much better than by any other method of preservation. this bread is broken and stired in could water until it be sufficiently thick and then eaten; in this way the natives most generally use it."

Grandma Nancy’s Favorite Recipes

Huckleberry Pie

Prepare pastry for two crust 9" pies.

Combine: ¾ cup brown sugar
¾ cup white sugar
3 tbs.flour
½ tsp. Cinnamon
dash salt

Mix with 4 cups berries – toss lightly. Fill bottom crust – dot with butter. Adjust top crust – cut slits for escape of steam. Seal edges – bake at 400 degrees,35-40 minutes.

Huckleberry Pancakes

1 1/4 cup flour
3 tsp.baking powder
1 Tbs. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 beaten egg
1 cup milk
2 Tbs. salad oil

Sift dry ingredients. Combine egg, milk, and oil. Stir into dry ingredients until just moistened. Fold in gently 1 cup huckleberries. Bake on hot griddle. Makes 12 dollar size.

Huckleberry Fritters

3 Tbs. sugar
1 cup commercial biscuit mix
1/3 cup milk
1 egg, beaten
1 cup huckleberries
powdered sugar

Mix ingredients together and drop by spoonfuls into hot fat. When they are nicely browned, drain on paper towels or paper bag and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Huckleberry Liqueur

4 cups huckleberries, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups pure grain alcohol
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup water
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 thin strips lemon peel

Place berries in aging container and mash with the back of a wooden spoon (or an old-fashioned potato masher works very well). Add alcohol and the 1 1/2 cups of water to the berries, stirring to combine. Cover container with lid or plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature or cooler for 2 weeks. Stir every few days.

Tip: If weather is very warm, berry mixture may be put in the refrigerator.

After initial aging, strain mixture over a large bowl through a colander or coarse wire mesh strainer. Discard fruit residue. Clean out aging container to remove all sediment.

Bring 1 cup water to a boil and pour over sugar and lemon peel. Stir well to completely dissolve sugar. Let cool to room temperature. Remove lemon peel and discard. Pour cooled sugar-water mixture ito aging container and add strained huckleberry liquid. Stir to combine. Cap and let age 1 1/2 months more.

After second aging, strain mixture again through fine strainer, wire or cloth, to remove all sediment. Re-strain as needed until clarity is reached. Bottle and cap as desired. May be used now for cooking but for serving as a liqueur age at least 1 more month; improves with additional time.

Variation: 3 cups 80-proof vodka may be substituted for the pure grain alcohol and the water if desired.

Spiced Huckleberry Liqueur is easily made by adding 1/2 teaspoon whole cloves and 1/2 teaspoon coriander to the Huckleberry Liqueur recipe.

Huckleberry Tarts

Small pastry shells or chocolate shells, purchased at your local market.
Fill 1/2 with vanilla or chocolate pudding.
Sprinkle with huckleberries.
Fill remainder with pudding
Top with homemade whip cream, semi-sweet chocolate shavings and a few more huckleberries.