Thursday, July 22, 2010

Huckleberry Hounds

Pick a handful and enjoy! High in Vitamin C, super powered antioxidants, the Huckleberry has been a favourite for thousands of years. I put together some links, recipes, and stories for you to make the most of nature's summer treat.

15july2010duaneburnett (14)

Huckleberries are an iconic memory of growing up as a child on the Sunshine Coast, BC. My family goes back 4 generations here, and I remember huckleberries vividly everywhere while playing with my cousin Pierre in the back yard forest trails connecting my Great Uncle Norm Berdhal and Great Aunty Eveyln's place in Gibsons with my cousins Diane, Gary, Lee and Lizette Berdahl's place at the other end of the well-used family trail. We would eat them by the handful. Tart yet so tasty.

I spoke with Sechelt Nation Elder Jamie Dixon about his child hood memories and the role of huckleberries in the Shishalh First Nation tradition.

Jamie said he has memories of eating handfuls of huckleberries as a kid growing up in Deserted Bay on Jervis Inlet with his Grandfather while they would be hunting grouse by canoe and hiking.

The British Columbia government archives say this area got its name in 1860 by Captain Richards, RN, while surveying the water, and referring to a Sechelt Village or seasonal camp on the south shore. The archives say that some "Indians" landed there in their canoes when a grizzly bear attacked and killed four of them. After the incident they never returned to the area known to First Nation's as Tsuahdie or "place to shelter."

Jamie tells a different story. He remembers an entire tribe of thousands of people were killed by small pox brought in from blankets traded and given to the natives when they would visit Gastown in Vancouver, BC to watch the funny white people who would stumble around all silly (drunk). The only survivor out of an entire tribe of thousands was just one young girl. That tears me up knowing how heavy that must be on Jamie's heart to recall that story, and I am grateful he shared it with me.

I was really honoured too that Jamie, who's Sechelt name is "Mas-Swiya" would so joyfully share the history of huckleberries with me. His traditional name means the 4 Nations and 4 Directions. I high sacred honour indeed!

He told me that huckleberries are high in Vitamin C. I have included some nutritional facts below that will blow your socks off!

The Sechelt people, Jamie said, would eat them fresh and also dry the huckleberries for the winter by putting them in a horse clam shell wrapped in cedar bark. He noted that huckleberry season also meant one thing... blueberry time was coming!

Sechelt Elder, Greta Picard aka Gretz Ky concurs. She remembers:

Berry picking was a great staple in our household when we were children. We used to go picking berries with the whole family, not just our parents, but with our Auntie Ruby, Lori, Lee, Brenda, Howard. I don't remember where we would pick, just remember us all being together and we always had a lot of fun. Our Mom's used always be laughing. Crump that was over 40 years ago, lol

Now I discovered there are lots you can do with huckleberries besides enjoying them fresh picked. Here are some suggestions I found on websites.

• Huckleberry Pie
• Huckleberry Fritters
• Huckleberry Cake
• Huckleberry Jam
• Huckleberry Crisp

Beverly commented:

Don't forget scones, muffins and pancakes!

I was amazed to find out that huckleberries are considered a super food! Check out these facts from the web and a recipe for making huckleberry pie below.

Nutrition & Health Benefits of Eating Huckleberries

* One serving of wild huckleberries has more antioxidant power than any other fruit or vegetable, thus helping a person to fight against aging, cancer and health diseases.
* Huckleberries aid pancreas in digesting sugars and starches.
* Since the berries are high in iron, they help in building blood.
* Huckleberries are used in preparing packs for relieving running sores, eczema and skin disorders.
* They are associated with lowering cholesterol; protecting against heart disease, muscular degeneration, glaucoma, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, and peptic ulcers; and healthier elimination.
* Being a good source of vitamin B, huckleberry supports and speeds up the metabolism rate, keeps skin and muscle tone healthy. It improves immune system function, promotes cell growth and division and helps in preventing pancreatic cancer.
* Since it is high in vitamin C, the berry protects body against immune deficiencies, cardiovascular diseases, prenatal health problems, and eye diseases.
* It also helps in protecting the cells against the damaging effects of free radicals and prevents premature skin wrinkling.
* The tea made from dried huckleberry leaves proves helpful in case of poor starch digestion.
* The berry ensures proper functioning of nerve and muscle tissues, such as the heart and skeletal muscles, due to its high content of potassium.
* The potassium in huckleberry regulates water balances and eliminates wastes.
* Clinical studies show that huckleberry promotes eye health, especially in case of diabetic patients.
* It fights infections, promotes insulin production and treats urinary tract infections.
* Huckleberry It acts as a laxative and treats diarrhea naturally.


* Add a little honey to huckleberries to bring out their taste.
* Huckleberries can also be added to fruit salads.
* Dry the leaves of huckleberry and use them to prepare tea.
* Huckleberries are used for preparing tasty jams, pies, cobblers and preserves.

I also found quite a few recipes as the berry is versatile for substituting with most berry's out there. I have included one, which I am sure will be a favourite, huckleberry pie!


Huckleberry Pie
3 c Fresh or frozen huckleberries
1 c Sugar, (scant)
1/2 ts Almond extract
1 ea Pastry for double crust pie
1 c Grated apple *
2 tb Flour
Dash of salt

* This does not alter the flavor, but stretches the berries Measure ingredients into a two quart mixing bowl and mix well. Pour into unbaked pie shell. Cover with top crust and bake at 375 degrees for about one hour or until nicely browned. Makes one 9" pie. Yield: 6 Servings. From

Its no wonder bears love huckleberries. Its amazing what we can learn from nature if we give it space and reverence in our lives.

I would like to suggest to the bear "powers" that maybe we should be planting more huckleberries in the wilderness so bears have something to eat since we have developed much of their traditional land for parking lots and urban sprawl. Add in a few apple trees and they will have their own mountain wilderness oasis and not have to depend on our garbage.

If you would like to learn more about indigenous plants and first nations, Sechelt Elder, Jamie Dixon has a life long experience as a wilderness survivor educator and cane take you and your group out. He can often be found teaching children young and old about the importance of local food growing in our very own back yards.

To book a tour or class with Jamie, he can be reached at 1-604-885-3140, Pacific Standard Time.

Knowing you can eat a lot of what grows around you makes me laugh to myself. I recall when we went to this expensive first nations restaurant that was around the Davie and Denman Street area in downtown Vancouver, BC. We paid big bucks for a fantastic meal that could have been picked from Stanley Park right next door! LOL

Thank you so much to Jamie and Gretzy, and to all of you for reading my blog, and your great feedback, comments, likes, story suggestions and well wishes. BACK AT YA!

All the best, Duane's World Excellent!

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  1. Don' forget scones, muffins and pancakes!

  2. thanks Beverly love these great suggestions. I will add it to the list above! you are making my mouth water thinking of all the yummy goodies we could make with huckleberry's, like Huckleberry Turnovers!


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