Huckleberry brings back memories of the famous character Huckleberry Finn, however beyond Huckleberry Finn it is one of the most popular fruits in North America. The name 'huckleberry' is a North American variation of the English dialectal name variously called 'hurtleberry' or 'whortleberry' for the bilberry. Huckleberries are highly climate specific, but can live in a variety of areas as long as its specific needs are met. They usually grow between 3500 and 7000 feet of elevation, and they require a constant supply of water. They do not grow in heavily shaded areas, yet they do not flourish in areas with too much sunlight. Huckleberries are a main food source for a wide range of animals including deer, birds, rodents, and insects most importantly, grizzly bears. Huckleberries provide up to 1/3 of grizzly bears' sustenance and they were a main source of food for the Natives. Today Huckleberry picking continues and many get to enjoy the nutritious aspects of this fruit.
Clinical Studies and Huckleberries Medicinal Values
Huckleberries are available in fresh form during the summer. The dried berries were added to soups or puddings along with other berries or meats to make them thicker. One serving of wild huckleberries has more antioxidant power than any other fruit or vegetable except lingonberries, thus helping a person to fight against aging, cancer and health disease conditions. You would have to eat over five servings of blueberries to get the same antioxidant levels found in just one serving of blue huckleberries. Clinical studies show that huckleberries promote eye health, especially with diabetics. They improve immune system function, promote cell growth and division and help in preventing pancreatic cancer. High in vitamin C, huckleberries protect the body against immune deficiencies, cardiovascular diseases, prenatal health problems, and eye diseases. They even aid the pancreas in digesting sugars and starches. The huckleberry ensures proper functioning of nerve and muscle tissues, such as the heart and skeletal muscles, due to its high content of potassium. Huckleberries resemble tiny blueberries in appearance the flavor being similar to the blueberry. The difference is the floral aroma and the sweet tart flavor.
Huckleberries cannot be TAMED
Huckleberries are a crop that as of yet cannot be domesticated - though some areas are experimenting with mechanical harvesters, for the most part they are hand-picked in their native habitat. Beyond having many historical medicinal values to the huckleberry there are many traditional recipes. The native way of preserving huckleberries was drying the berries. They placed the huckleberries in the sun to dry or they would dry them by the fire. When using the ‘fire method’ an old decaying log would be chosen, and the earth next to the log would be removed on one side. The berries would then be placed on a mat next to the log, and the log set on fire. As they were dried they were stored away for winter use. To add flavor to the berries a little honey would be added to the huckleberries to bring out their taste. Adding them to fruit salads added a delicious flavor full of medicinal value. The leaves of the huckleberry were also dried and used to prepare tea. The natives used huckleberries for preparing tasty jams, pies, cobblers and preserves and made Huckleberry Bannock.
Huckleberry Bannock - Makes 2 dozen.
2 cups huckleberries
3 cups unbleached flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 c water
Oil (for deep frying)
Wash berries and drain well. Sift dry ingredients together into a mixing bowl. Beat eggs with water until foamy. Mix quickly into dry ingredients. Fold in berries. Heat oil or shortening in deep heavy skillet to 350 degrees F. Drop batter by tablespoonsful into the hot oil. Turn frequently so that they brown to a deep golden color on all sides. Drain on paper towels and serve hot.
Cherokee Huckleberry Round Cake
This is a wonderful Cherokee Huckleberry Recipe.
1 cup fresh huckleberries*
1/2 cup shortening,
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup honey
3 eggs beaten
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon unbleached flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a mixing bowl, cream together shortening, sugar and honey. Beat in eggs and milk. Sift in 1 1/2 cups of the flour, baking powder and salt. Combine thoroughly. In a small bowl, toss berries with remaining flour. Gently fold berries. Bake in oven until done.
Nutrition & Health Benefits of Eating Huckleberries
1. One serving of wild huckleberries has more antioxidant power than any other fruit or vegetable, thus helping a person to fight against aging, cancer and health diseases.
2. Promotes cell growth and division.
3. Aid the pancreas in digesting sugars and starches.
4. Protect eye health caused by diabetes.
5. Aid the pancreas in digesting sugars and starches
6. Improves the digestive system functions.
7. Since the berries are high in iron, they help in building blood.
8. Ensures proper functioning of nerve and muscle tissues.
9. Huckleberries are used in preparing packs for relieving running sores, eczema and skin disorders.
10. They are associated with lowering cholesterol; protecting against heart disease, muscular degeneration, glaucoma, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, and peptic ulcers; and healthier elimination.
11. Being a good source of vitamin B, huckleberry supports and speeds up the metabolism rate, keeps skin and muscle tone healthy. It improves immune system function, promotes cell growth and division and helps in preventing pancreatic cancer.
12. Since it is high in vitamin C, the berry protects body against immune deficiencies, cardiovascular diseases, prenatal health problems, and eye diseases.
13. Treat urinary tract infections.
14. Help to control cholesterol levels.
15. Promote vasodilatation for better peripheral circulation.
16. Act as a laxative to naturally treat diarrhea
17. It also helps in protecting the cells against the damaging effects of free radicals and prevents premature skin wrinkling.
18. The tea made from dried huckleberry leaves proves helpful in case of poor starch digestion.
19. The berry ensures proper functioning of nerve and muscle tissues, such as the heart and skeletal muscles, due to its high content of potassium.
20. The potassium in huckleberry regulates water balances and eliminates wastes.
21. Clinical studies show that huckleberry promotes eye health, especially in case of diabetic patients.
22. Helps in preventing pancreatic cancer.
23. It fights infections, promotes insulin production and treats urinary tract infections.
24. Huckleberry It acts as a laxative and treats diarrhea naturally.
Eating In Season
When in season you may want to consider eating huckleberries and blackberries as they offer a powerhouse of antioxidants. “Scientists at Brigham and Women's Hospital analyzed data on berry consumption among 16,010 women participating in the Nurses' Health Study. The women completed dietary questionnaires every four years beginning in 1980, prior to cognitive testing; they were tested for memory and other cognitive function every two years between 1995 and 2001. The study found that women who consumed berries several times a week saw slower mental decline, equivalent to up to two and a half years of delayed cognitive aging.”