This story is featured in Montana Outdoors July-August 2004 issue
Most commercially sold hucks have been cleaned by the vendor, but if you pick them yourself, you’ll want to clean them. I put a few cups in a strainer and pick the sticks, leaves, and bugs out by hand. I don’t rinse the berries because I can’t bear to see the precious juice wash down the drain.
What do you do with the cleaned huckleberries (provided you haven’t eaten them all at one sitting)? One option is to freeze them for later use. Hucks must be frozen tightly in a sealed container so the fragrance doesn’t permeate everything in your freezer. One way is to freeze the berries in a single layer on a paper towel– covered cookie sheet and then put the frozen berries into a container.
nother is to dab the berries gently with a paper towel to remove moisture, put them in a large glass jar or heavy-duty zipper-lock plastic bag, and then freeze. They freeze well this way and are easy to remove later a cup or two at a time.
Try to freeze hucks within a few days of picking. Otherwise they get too juicy, begin to ferment, and freeze into one big huckleberry clump.
I don’t wait to thaw huckleberries when baking but simply add them frozen to a pie, cobbler, or pancake recipe. This is one of my favorite recipes, given to me by my picking buddy, Desi Hanson.
1 box butter recipe yellow cake mix
3⁄4 c. butter
1 c. finely ground pecans
1 c. quick-cooking oatmeal
1 T. cinnamon
11⁄2 c. fresh or frozen huckleberries
Preheat oven to 350°. Mix first five ingredients until crumbly. Put half the mixture in the bottom of a 13- by 9-inch baking pan (sprayed with cooking oil) and pat down.
Distribute huckleberries over bottom layer. Sprinkle remaining crumb mixture over the top and pat lightly.
Bake 30 minutes or until lightly browned.
Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.
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