If it had not been for my hubby to grow up in Washington State, I doubt I would have ever tried huckleberries! I had never even heard of them! If you haven't tried them either, add them to your bucket list of must-trys !!!
These little berries are AMAZING! They look like a blueberry, but they are smaller and have a very distinct flavor. They actually make blueberries to taste BLEND in comparison! After trying a huckleberry, you might never forgive me because you will never have another blueberry again!
However, I'm confused about the whole "they only grow on the sides of the mountains", though. After studying further, it appears that they also grow along streams, marshes and at the foot of large trees all over the south and many parts of the Midwest. I wonder since blueberries are native to New Jersey if I can grow huckleberries on the side of the hill we live on down by the lake and next to the trees. Sounds like a perfect place! It would definitely be worth a try!
I couldn't even begin to imagine having my own huckleberry bushes! I also couldn't imagine bears being pulled out of the woods and into my backyard. I'll probably have to bring a radio and blow up some old AC / DC to scare them away! You have to do that! 😉 I will probably scare me away every living thing within a radius of 5 km!
At least I call my jam "mountainside" because we get our berries from a company that handpicks them from shrubs that grow on Mt. St. Helens. If you are not lucky enough to have your own bushes or live near some that you can choose, do as we do and book them online.
We get ours from a father and son-owned business called Northwest Wildfoods. They have several kinds along with many other wonderful products. Give them a google, they are very nice people to start with! Or discover your own business to order from, but order that you do because stores just don't have them, as they are very labor intensive due to the need to choose hand.
But wherever you choose to order from, you might want to buy a few extra bags because they also make wonderful pies, cakes and cobblers!
This jam is easy to make using the freezing method and heated, it is heavenly over vanilla ice cream too! 😉
I hope you try these special berries quickly as they are really flavorful and overloaded with vitamins! Have a nice day and share a few jars with the neighbors! They make amazing gifts!
BERGSIDE HUCKLEBERRY JAM
Makes 10 – 12 oz. jars
2 1/2 pints of fresh chicken berries, (or frozen, thawed and drained) or 3 cups crushed
5 1/4 cups sugar
1 (1.75 oz.) Box of Sure Jell Premium Fruit Pectin
3/4 cup of water
10 pure 12 oz. canned jars with lids or plastic freezer containers
Crush 1 cup of berries at a time with a potato machine for best results. If you use a food processor, pulse to finely chop. DO NOT CLEAN. Jams must have fruit varieties. Measure the exact amount of prepared fruit in a large bowl. Measure the exact amount of sugar in a separate bowl. Reducing sugar or using sugar substitutes will result in set failure unless you use SURE-JELL FOR LESS OR NO SUGAR REQUIREMENTS for no or low sugar jams and jellies. Stir sugar in prepared fruit or juice. Mix well. Let stand 10 minutes; stirring occasionally.
Stir 1 box of SURE-JELL PREMIUM FRUIT PECTIN and ¾ cup water into a small sauce pan. (Pectin may start to become lumpy). Boil on high heat while stirring constantly. Cook 1 minute while stirring occasionally. Remove it from the heat. Stir pectin into the fruit mixture. Stir constantly until sugar is completely dissolved and no longer grainy, approx. 3 minutes. (A few sugar crystals may remain.) Pour into prepared containers or jars, then ½ inch at the top for expansion during freezing; deck with lid. I used canned glass jars, left room and had no trouble freezing them. Leave at room temperature for 24 hours until set. Refrigerator up to 3 weeks. Otherwise, store in the freezer for up to a year. Thaw in the refrigerator, otherwise it will become very runny. Always store in a refrigerator and not at room temperature.* I used frozen berries which I drained in a colander over a bowl to catch the juices. I saved the juices and added it to a pitcher of sweet tea!