Eat this Word: Huckleberries

huckleberriesWHAT? Berry trails. Perhaps more associated with Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn than with fine cuisine, huckleberries grow most widely in the West, and along Midwestern rivers, like the Mississippi, on which Huck spent so many days lazing. Huckleberries come in many shades, including pink, white, blue-black, and purple, with the blue-black variety being the firmest and most widely available in the marketplace. James Beard was a fan, writing in American Cookery that they were “wonderful to the taste.” Unlike their close relatives, blueberries and cranberries, which have a multitude of soft, little seeds in their center, each huckleberry contains ten hard, small seeds, and their flavor is more tart. Huckleberries are not cultivated; their growing season is typically from June through August. According to Beard, they “make good pies and cakes and other typically American delights.” WHERE?

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Recipe: James Beard's Huckleberry Cake

HuckleberriesAn Oregon native, James Beard was fond of the many types of wild berries that dot the Pacific Northwestern landscape. In Delights and Prejudices he recounts the springtime berry-picking excursions he took as a child with his family, searching for fruits to use in baked goods and jams. The holy grail of these outings was the huckleberry, which typically grows on mountain slopes and is difficult to reach. When the Beards had the good fortune to stumble upon an elusive patch, they gathered huckleberries to put in pies, clafoutis, or this simple but fantastic cake, a recipe from a family friend. Huckleberry cultivation is rare, so you usually won't see them at grocery stores or farmers' markets. Blueberries, which are similar in flavor and will be available soon, are an excellent substitute.

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Recipe: James Beard's Huckleberry Cake

HuckleberriesAn Oregon native, James Beard was fond of the many types of wild berries that dot the Pacific Northwestern landscape. In Delights and Prejudices he recounts the springtime berry-picking excursions he took as a child with his family, searching for fruits to use in baked goods and jams. The holy grail of these outings was the huckleberry, which typically grows on mountain slopes and is difficult to reach. When the Beards had the good fortune to stumble upon an elusive patch, they gathered huckleberries to put in pies, clafoutis, or this simple but fantastic cake, a recipe from a family friend. Huckleberry cultivation is rare, so you usually won't see them at grocery stores or farmers' markets. Blueberries, which are similar in flavor and will be available soon, are an excellent substitute.

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