Huckleberries may quite possibly be the best thing about summer in McCall. These round purple berries have a tart kick that make them the perfect addition to pies, ice cream, pancakes, syrup and more. While you can purchase fresh or frozen Idaho huckleberries at some farmer’s markets, the best way to get your huckleberry fix is by picking them yourself!
Finding a bountiful huckleberry patch can require a bit of adventure. Start by getting to the right elevation (between 4,000 and 6,000 feet). Forest Service and old logging roads are a great way to access these high country areas. Huckleberry shrubs range in size from 2 feet to 6 feet and some of the best patches can be found in shaded areas. The leaves of a huckleberry bush are deep green with thin stems while the berries are small and range from deep red to purple to blue-black. Huckleberries typically ripen between July and September in the McCall area.
To clean your huckleberry haul, pour them in a large bowl and cover them with water. Any stems and leaves that may remain will float to the top and be skimmed off. Drain in a colander then spread them on a towel to dry. Once dry, huckleberries can be frozen and preserved. For the best results, pack the berries into bags and vacuum seal.
- Bring a hands-free container. A small bucket or basket that can be tied through your belt loops is a great option.
- Wear long pants and a long-sleeve shirt. This will help protect you against the brush on the forest floor as well as give you an added layer of protection against mosquitoes. Bug spray is also a good idea!
- Pack a water bottle. Aside from needing a drink you may also want a bit of extra water to wash off your hands after a day of picking!
- Huckleberries are a favorite food of bears. While it is rare for a bear to attack, be sure to make some noise as you work your way through a patch and always carry a canister of bear spray just in case!
We love huckleberries in Idaho so much, we dedicate an entire festival to them! Each August, Donnelly, Idaho hosts a weekend of family fun to celebrate this delicious little berry. With vendors, a 5k fun run and walk, a bull riding competition, pie eating contest, huckleberry pancake breakfast, street dance and more, you won’t want to miss this annual event! For more information, visit the Donnelly Chamber of Commerce website.