After years of being skunked, I finally found some huckleberries. And boy was it fun!
I only sort of loosely went looking for them. I really just needed to go on a dog friendly hike and hadn’t been away from the quick ones near town in a while. I saw social media postings of others finding huckleberries on Teton Pass so I randomly grabbed a couple of plastic bags on my way out the door, just in case.
I really didn’t have high hopes. In my entire almost 20-year tenure in Jackson Hole, I have only randomly run into huckleberries one other time and it was on a trail in Idaho.
I have, however, enjoyed eating them many times. At local restaurants, in sauces for meat dishes. In pies, scones and other baked goods you can buy at the farmers markets. And, on a couple of occasions, people have brought me a supply and I have folded them into pancake batter.
Of course I have also eaten them in a milkshake. Who hasn’t? The Victor Emporium is basically famous for making them. And, really, the shakes are that good. Fresh huckleberries are quite tart so they really work well when added to something sweet.
Back to the hike. I was walking along and without even trying started spotting purple berries all over. At first, I thought, “This is way too easy: these can’t be huckleberries.” Then, I bravely tried one. When I didn’t keel over and die, I ate a few more. They were tart and a little under ripe so I continued up the trail.
Shortly, all I could see were bright purple berries everywhere I looked. I literally couldn’t believe my eyes. I slowed my pace and started picking. Soon, all I could smell was the sweet scent of these wild blueberries.
While my original purpose was to get some exercise, I almost couldn’t stop myself from picking. Foraging for anything you can eat is sort of overwhelmingly fun. All I can think about is how fresh these treats are and what I should make with them.
Also, the higher on the mountain I got, the better the berries got. They weren’t quite ripe enough at the bottom but further up, they were perfect. And then, it peaked out and I couldn’t find the berries at all. Thankfully I was on a loop and found even more on my way down.
When I got home it was time to think about what to do with them. I debated many ideas. Scones. A tart. Jam. A jalapeño huckleberry sauce. But, ultimately, it was my husband who made the call, telling me “you have to make something sweet with these.”
So, I decided on a milkshake. Besides right off the vine, it is really the best way I have eaten them before.
I realize that this recipe is a rather simple one, so I will tell you a couple of ways to ensure it is simply delicious. First, use the best ice cream you can buy. Jeni’s is amazing and it can be bought at Pearl Street Market, but I am a fan of going local and bought Moos. Then, and this should be obvious, make the shakes to order and never refreeze. Finally, whip some freshly whipped cream to put on top.
This will be as good, I promise, as any you can buy. Eat it in the late afternoon sun outside and wallow in the bounty that we are so lucky to be able to find!