You thought Idaho and potatoes were synonymous, try Idaho and huckleberries! Now I’ve had huckleberry pancakes (by the way, there’s a whole story surrounding these involving breakfast, a big track and field competition and winning a conference championship, but that’s for another time) and huckleberry syrup before, but I have never tasted nor had the opportunity to make a Huckleberry recipe like a Huckleberry pie, until now.
Did You Know…
That the huckleberry was designated the official state fruit of Idaho in 2000? In fact, Fourth-grade students from Southside Elementary School in Bonner County proposed adopting the huckleberry as Idaho’s state fruit. Here’s a little more background on Idaho Huckleberries to get you up to speed.
The most common and popular is the black or thin-leaved huckleberry (Vaccinium membranaceum). Black huckleberries usually grow from 1 to 6 feet tall (taking up to 15 years to reach full maturity) with berries up to 1/2 inch in diameter. Black huckleberries produce single plump, dark purple berries in the axils of leaves on new shoots.
You HAVE to bake what’s growing in your backyard. And by ‘backyard’ I mean, what’s growing within your state. For you, it may be peaches (Georgia), or blackberries (Alabama or Kentucky) or apples (New York), but for me it’s huckleberries.
I had been longing to put together a huckleberry recipe for as long as I have lived in Idaho and have just never got around to doing it. They grow wild all over the state, and when people find them, they covet the their location as if guarding a state secret – returning to that ‘secret’ location year after year to pick huckleberries. Grocery stores don’t carry them, but you can find them at corner outdoor markets all the time, for a pretty penny.
The particular market I found my huckleberries at were selling them at $18 a lbs (Ouch!) and I bought 3 lbs. worth. It was a ‘painful’ purchase but one I HAD to make.
Getting the huckleberries cleaned and prepped was both simple and challenging. They have tiny stems on them that you want to try to get off, but unless you want to spend hours doing so, you really just do the best that you can, when washing them. You won’t really notice them in the final product, but every now and then you will get a few. No biggie, but just something to be aware of.
As I mentioned earlier, I had had huckleberry recipes before (pancakes, etc), but had never had a huckleberry recipe that had so many…..huckleberries, if that makes sense. In other words, eating a mouthful of sweetened huckleberries as opposed to a few speckled in pancakes. What I discovered is that it did require and acquired taste and that I could only eat so much (not nearly the size portions of pie that I could devour when it came to an apple or blackberry pie). So also be aware of that.
But, having said that, the pie did turn out wonderful. It was juicy, and the crust and huckleberries were fantastic when taken together. If I could describe the taste of a huckleberry, I’d say it tasted a bit like a blueberry with a somewhat different after taste. But you need to try it for yourself as everything tastes different to different folks.
Below is a simple and quick Huckleberry Pie recipe for you. Like any pie, there are a lot of different ways to put them together, so continue to seek out and try different huckleberry recipes when you can.
Huckleberry Pie Recipe
Flaky Butter Pie Crust (any recipe will do, or you can just use mine!)
5½ cups fresh huckleberries, picked over (as best you can), rinsed and patted dry
1 cup granulated sugar
3 Tbs. light brown sugar
2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
4 Tbs. minute tapioca (I used as is, or you can grind up for a finer texture)
⅛ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
⅛ tsp. salt
WASH FOR CRUST
1 Tbs. water
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees
- In a large bowl, combine the huckleberries, granulated sugar, brown sugar, lemon juice, tapioca, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Carefully stir and turn the mixture until well combined. Set aside for at least 15 minutes so the tapioca can get soft and the sugar dissolves.
- Roll out one disk of refrigerated pie dough, to about ⅛ inches thick, and about 12 inches in diameter. Place dough into a 9 inch pie dish. Place the dish into the refrigerator while you roll out the dough for the top. Roll the top out to the same thickness.
- Pour the filling into the pie shell, then carefully cover with the second pie crust you rolled out. Trim where necessary and crimp the edges. Lightly brush with egg wash and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
- Bake at 450 degrees for 20 minutes. Turn the heat down to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 30-60 minutes (I baked for the entire 60min….it helped with cutting back the juices). The time always varies! Just bake until the filling is bubbling. Cover the edges with aluminum foil or a pie shield if it’s getting too brown. Let cool completely before cutting or you’ll have some serious juice to contend with when you cut into it!
It took me a few pies to get the hang of my French Rolling Pin, but when I did, I felt as if I had more ‘control’ when rolling out dough, so that it’s the right thickness. Try one out. They’re inexpensive and nice to have when you want to show off.