More permanent stuff at

19 October 2008

Huckleberry Finish

One of the things I love doing when I visit my family in Montana is to sample the huckleberry fare. I don't know whether it is the official berry of Montana or not, but there seem to be a lot of huckleberry specialties wherever we go.

With that in mind I began growing them in my garden two years ago. The first year I only had two plants--not really enough to do anything with. But they did well. None of the seeds I planted last year germinated--ugh. This year I had four plants. I figured it would be enough for a few pints of syrup.

I estimate I got about a pound of fruit from the four plants (5-6 cups). The berries themselves taste quite bland. It worried me some, but I figured the 10,000 huckleberry recipes I've seen can't be too wrong.

I crushed the berries in a stainless steel pot, taking care not to get any juice on me. I added 0.25 cup of water and simmered the berries for about 15 minutes. I then crushed them some more. Next I put the mash through a colander to draw out the easy juices.

Then the mash went into a rag that I used to squeeze more juice out. I ended up with about a cup of skins and seeds that I tossed out back into the compost pile. I put the juice on low heat.

The juice had an odd smell, slightly reminiscent of sulfur. Yes, I was still worried.

I added a few tablespoons of lemon juice, hoping it would help to draw out the flavor. Then I started slowly adding sugar. Five or six cups I believe. Total yield was about 2 quarts of syrup. I could probably have thinned it out to 3 quarts, but I prefer thick syrup.

So the syrup turned out well, and it tastes good too. We made a special pancake dinner tonight to celebrate the occasion and use our new syrup.