Montana Huckleberry Pie and Late Summer Days

Bull River in MontanaAn early morning wake up call in late summer meant we were headed farther up in to the mountains to hunt for huckleberries.  My sister, cousins and I  hurriedly donned our shorts and t-shirts remembering the number one rule. When heading up where the bears were foraging for berries too, grandmother made sure we at least wore our tenny runners.  Running bare-foot and wild in Montana on berry picking days was strictly prohibited.

We climbed in to the dusty, dark green pick up and off we went with empty buckets and baskets knowing we would probably eat just as many berries as would make it back down the mountain with us. We would spend a full day picking and eating, in big sky country’s cool mountain air, keeping in mind all of the warnings and teachings of what to do if we saw a bear.  We actually never came across one while berry picking, although we did pay strict attention when our grandmother pointed out all the signs they were near, and reminded us repeatedly to keep our eyes and ears open.

huckleberriesHuckleberries were in high demand with the locals.  Late summer meant deeply hued berries were on every menu for every meal.  My favorite was simply to dump a handful or two in my breakfast cereal and munch on them with milk or cream.  My grandmother used them to enhance her already famous pancakes she  served in her restaurant and her customers loved these even more.

Now I look back and realize what a fantastic and educational treat those times with my grandmother were.  She was an exceptional woman in so many ways and whenever I run across a huckleberry, or see the word in print, those moments of summer berry picking, pancakes and berries with milk or cream are forefront in my memory.

Huckleberry PieHuckleberry Pie by Montana Recipes.  Fruit pies are so deliciously simple. The basic ingredients, are fruit, sugar and a thickener, which leaves quite a lot of room for improvisation.  If you are a cinnamon lover, add it.  If you prefer to cut the sugar a bit, do it.  Want a smoother, warmer flavor?  Add a bit of vanilla.  If you are topping your pie with freshly whipped cream, consider an espresso, cinnamon, lemon, orange or a light cocoa addition to your cream while whipping.

The huckleberries have tremendous flavor all their own, and I suggest before adding sugar, taste your berries to decide exactly how much sugar you really want to use.  This recipe calls for lard in the pie crust and if you are simply not a fan, substitute the crust recipe with your own.  Shopping list; Flour, salt, lard, huckleberries and sugar.  Full recipe and method

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