You may have noticed fresh huckleberries making an appearance at farmers market stands lately – and for good reason. These perennial berry shrubs are found growing in abundance around our region, and the dog days of summer in late July and early August make for a perfect excuse to head to the mountains for some cooler air and forage for your own wild huckleberries.
Many non-locals have never heard of a huckleberry before. These bright purple berries are shaped like smaller blueberries yet feature a more tart flavor. Huckleberries are bursting with antioxidants, including vitamin C, which is important for boosting the immune system, forming collagen for healthy skin and joints, and prevention of cardiovascular disease and certain cancers.
Huckleberries are popular made into jams or distilled spirits, or can easily be added to smoothies, pancakes, crepes, oatmeal or tossed into salads. Freshly picked huckleberries can also be washed and frozen. To freeze, simply spread the huckleberries out on a cookie sheet over parchment paper, put in the freezer, and remove when firm and place in a plastic bag for future use. Frozen huckleberries make a great addition to breakfast smoothies or pies and cobblers.
Try this easy summer salad recipe that incorporates fresh huckleberries:
Summer Huckleberry Kale Salad
- 1 head of kale, washed and leaves removed from stems and torn into bite-sized pieces
- ¾ cup fresh huckleberries
- ¾ cup fresh strawberries, stems removed and sliced lengthwise
- 5 oz. (about ½ cup) crumbled goat cheese
- ½ cup chopped honey glazed pecans or walnuts (see recipe below)
- Poppy seed dressing to drizzle (use your favorite brand, or see recipe below)
To serve: Toss kale into a large salad bowl with huckleberries, strawberries, goat cheese and pecans, and drizzle with desired amount of poppy seed dressing. Feel free to add more toppings or additional berries if desired!
For the honey glazed pecans/walnuts: Combine 1 tablespoon honey, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, and 2 tablespoons butter in a small skillet. Heat on low, and once the butter is melted add 1 cup pecans or walnuts (whole) and toss lightly to coat for about 2-3 minutes. Place nuts on a baking sheet and bake in a 350 degree oven for 6-8 minutes until toasted and glazed over. Keep a batch on hand for your favorite salad recipes.
For the poppy seed dressing: Whisk together ½ cup extra virgin olive oil, ¼ cup apple cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon white sugar, ½ teaspoon dried mustard, 1 tablespoon poppy seeds, and pinch of salt and pepper. Taste, and adjust seasonings if desired.
Recipe and article by Natalie Colla, CDE, RDN, LDN. Natalie is a dietitian specializing in diabetes education and care. She maintains a food and health blog at www.plantasticeating.com.