Each summer we venture out to our secret huckleberry spot to pick the sweet, juicy berries. This year we made huckleberry lemonade aide with our berries and it is a new favorite summer beverage in our family!
My parents are visiting us this week from the east coast so we thought we would venture up the mountain to our secret huckleberry spot to share with them our family tradition of picking huckleberries. The bushes are hanging even more full than a week ago with dark purple juicy berries.
I wrote about this year’s first adventure picking huckleberries last week (click here to read the post). Today we left in the morning and packed a lunch to take along for a picnic in the mountains.
My husband was out on a different mountain adventure with some of his friends for a much needed “guy’s weekend” so it was just my parents and I picking. I got to wear our little nugget in the pack on my back which my husband did last time. I found that to make it work, I had to find the taller bushes to pick standing up or find a downed log to sit on by a patch to pick.
We picked for about an hour and had a pretty good haul for our efforts. We just finished eating all the huckleberries we picked last week so I figured most of this batch would be preserved by freezing for use throughout the winter.
After we came home, I rinsed the berries to separate out any leaves, twigs and stems. I always let them sit for a little while in a colander to let water drain off. Then I lay them out on a dish towel to dry before bagging them up. This ensures they do not freeze to each other in a big blob and also helps prevent freezer burn. Some folks will lay them out in a single layer on a cookie sheet to freeze in the freezer and then bag them but I find drying them first is easier.
I freeze 1 cup of huckleberries per bag, making sure to gently press out all the air in the bag as I seal it up to keep them fresh and prevent freezer burn. This round of picking produced five one cup bags of huckleberries. I then placed them in a larger size freezer bag for extra protection and also to help me organize them in our chest freezer.
When we were in Glacier National Park a few days ago, we saw a sign for huckleberry lemonade so I decided that the next huckleberries we picked I would try to make a homemade batch. I saved out 1 cup of huckleberries when I was bagging them up to freeze. Luckily we had several lemons on hand so I figured it was the perfect time to make some huckleberry lemonade.
I started with a basic homemade lemonade recipe and added pureed huckleberries. Oh. my. goodness. It is so delicious! My mom and I are actually sitting outside enjoying the evening on our deck drinking our homemade huckleberry lemonade as I write this.
So here’s the recipe:
Wild Huckleberry Lemonade:
1 cup huckleberries
1 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
3/4 cup unrefined sugar
6 cups water
Place 1 cup of water and the sugar in a pan. Heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved and you have a syrup. Puree the huckleberries in 1 cup of water. Pour the lemon juice, syrup and huckleberry puree into a large glass jar. Then add four cups of water and shake or stir to mix. Serve over ice and enjoy!
The beverage may be pulpy from the lemon juice (I squeeze by hand so end up with some pulp) and the huckleberry puree. We like our juices this way but if you’re a person who likes no pulp, you can run it through a strainer before serving.
This post also featured on the International Wild Huckleberry Association Website!