Foraging Huckleberries and Native Wild Blueberries at Ridge Haven Homestead
It’s harvest time for our wild berries, so time to go foraging! I cannot tell how excited we are here at our little property! Well…maybe I’m the person who’s the most excited, but I make up for everyone else’s calm demeanor regarding these native gems!
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At first, we thought all of our bushes were wild blueberries! Earlier this Spring, when they began to blossom out, we noticed the dark pink flowers on most of the wild bushes. More about that and pictures from our early Spring bushes here: Huckleberry Hill or Blueberry Haven?
Some searching on the web suggested that maybe these were not wild blueberries but huckleberries! But we could not be sure until the harvest time came!
I’ve been picking in the mornings–we basically forage enough to eat for one breakfast! Those huckleberry bushes and wild blueberry bushes are rather stingy compared to the cultivated blueberries were used to.
But the flavor!
If you’ve never done so, you need to get out and try foraging huckleberries! They pack a punch in flavor, and I like the little crunch I feel when I bite into one!
What’s the difference?
Ok, so you want to go out foraging, but you don’t know the difference between huckleberries and wild blueberries? Do like I did and study the examples! I like the comparisons at this page so well that I’ve bookmarked the page, and the information has helped me a lot!
Once we tasted the berries and compared them to the information we’d read, we knew that we had mostly huckleberries. I did a happy dance about that! That’s because huckleberries, we learned, have ten seeds inside each small berry. Wild blueberries have seeds so soft that you don’t notice them, and they taste sweet and smooth. I actually like both berries!
Wild blueberries are more strong in flavor than their cultivated counterparts, so they are a real treat!
Wild huckleberries are even more robust, and I found them very pleasant to eat! I picked for half an hour and maybe got a cup--they just aren’t all that abundant in berries!
Shown in the picture are mostly huckleberries, a few wild blueberries, and a couple of Pink Lemonade blueberries that I picked. This last foraging event yielded a between a cup and a cup and a half.
We made oat pancakes, topped them with pure maple syrup from the Degrave maple syrup farm, and slathered that with Vegan Cashew Cream (recipe below) and the freshly foraged berries. That was an awesome breakfast!
We feel so blessed to have these wild berries right out on our very own property! But you if you pay attention, and you get out before the bears, you can go foraging for your own!
Last summer, while hiking up on Max Patch in NC, we came across some HUGE bushes of wild blueberries! The bushes towered over our heads! Unfortunately for us, fortunately for the black bears, those berries weren’t quite ripe, so we had to leave them. We knew that either humans or bears would be feasting within the week on all those tasty berries!
Conditions for wild berry plants
Of note, in case you aren’t aware of this, wild berries grow well on windy mountain tops. In fact, they seem to thrive there! We have seen beautiful bushes on top of Roan Mountain, alongside the native rhododendrons, mountain laurel, and azaleas. Ridge Haven’s hills are covered with this type of bushes. This means that our soil is very acid, which is what the blueberries and huckleberries thrive in!
When we cleared out some tall trees from around our wild berry bushes, suddenly they had room to spread out, get sunshine, and this has already increased their yields.
I know that I said they weren’t all that prolific, but compared to 2-3 berries per bush last summer and now clusters of berries, this is an improvement! We will take what we can get for free! Foraging is fun!
We did a side by side comparison, plus a taste test in our family after we got back from foraging. The wild blueberries here are more oval-shaped, and the huckleberries appear more rounded. They are all quite small.
As far as taste, I’ve already described that. All of us agreed that we liked the huckleberries the best, but not to the exclusion of the blueberries. For me, I could easily mix up the two.
Now Time to Share
I certainly hope that you get to enjoy the experience of foraging for wild berries! Obviously, huckleberries and wild blueberries are only two varieties of what’s out there for free.
Blackberries are abundant in most locales, Dew berries are a real treat if you run across a patch, and there are others! Be like me and snatch up what lies in your path!
Vegan Sweet Cashew Cream
This is a weekly favorite in our home. My boys have perfected the recipe, and they are in charge of making this cream to top our Pancakes, Waffles, Fresh or frozen Fruit, or just out of the bowl!
It’s very simple to make!
- 2 cups non-dairy milk, plus 2 cups more, reserved milk. (We use Almond or Soy milk)
- 1 cup raw, washed Cashews (May also use blanched raw almonds, or non-blanched if you don’t mind brown specks from the skin)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 T sweetener, or to taste (honey, maple syrup, cane crystals).
- Add 2 c milk to blender with cashews and salt.
- Blend very well until smooth
- Add remaining milk plus sweetener and blend more.
- Add thickener, and blend.
Yields about one quart cream.
Store in refrigerator up to a couple days if it lasts that long!
I hope you enjoy the recipe, and I hope you get to go out and find some wild berries!
Let me know what you think about huckleberries and wild blueberries!