Happy Huckleberry Hunting from Autumn Cove MHC

[caption id="attachment_252" align="alignnone" width="751"]A successful huckleberry hunt is just a short drive away... A successful huckleberry hunt is just a short drive away...[/caption]

As if the great lifestyle and fun year-round events aren't enough reason to live at Autumn Cove Manufactured Housing Community, we'll throw in the fact that huckleberry country is just a short drive away! Located in Idaho Falls, Idaho, Autumn Cove is just a couple hours drive from prime picking grounds for these delicious, tangy berries.

Starting in late July through early August hundreds of nature lovers make their annual pilgrimage to their secret, if not sacred, huckleberry spots. Die-hard berry pickers have their own favorite spots where they return each and every year to harvest the little beauties, and most would rather take that information with them rather than share the location with others. It may take a dedicated picker a few hours just to fill a quart jar, and the last thing they want is competition. Many local families even hold reunions centered around this annual harvest, including the making of jars of precious jam to send home with everyone. If you are fortunate enough to be part of a group that are working toward a joint harvest, you can fill containers much more quickly.

But if it is such a secret, how do you find a spot of your own? Huckleberries are known to grow wild in high altitude mountain forests such as those here in southeastern Idaho, and only on the south slopes. Observe, In the first photo above, an example of the type of the type of forest where the berries can be found. The forests above Heise Hot Springs and Kelly Canyon areas are the easiest access from Idaho Falls. You will need to drive far enough in that you are primarily in forested areas, not meadow land. Many people say the best way to find a stand of ripe huckleberries is to roll the windows down and take a deep breath. Their distinctive aroma hangs in the air giving clues as to their location.

Then you will want to find areas similar to the second photo - tall pines allowing a sprinkling of sunlight through to the dense undergrowth. Once you find a likely spot, (you will probably want bug spray and long sleeves) you may need to hike back in a little ways before you start finding fruit-laden bushes. The leaves of a Huckleberry bush are dull and oval shaped. the trunks and branches are a darker brown color. Although you may spot a few berries here and there among the tops of the bushes, (see middle photo) the larger number of berries will be found on the underside of the new leaf growth. Some employ a crouching stance so they can look up from below the leaves and spot the fruit more easily. Others may prefer, especially if arthritic knees are a factor, to just turn the leaves over looking for them. Whatever your style, you'll probably discover that however thorough you were, you will unfailingly turn around to spy more berries right where you thought you had picked every last one.

Two types of huckleberries are found in our area. The first, and most easy to find, are a bush which ranges in size from a mere eighteen inches to nearly 5 feet tall. This variety is the most common and is covered with a deep purpley-blue berry varying from a very small pea to a medium blueberry. The berries do not grow in clusters, but singly. You may tell a berry is ripe in that it will pull cleanly from the bush with no stem attached. If you are finding a good deal of unripened berries, move further back into the woods, as it is likely this patch was recently picked. The second kind is a lower-profile, scrubby ground cover. These plants produce a berry that is more red in color. If you are lucky enough to find these smaller bushes, which usually grow below or near the larger huckleberry bushes, you will be rewarded with the larger, sweeter berries this variety produces. Between the two, a few hours of dedication and you will have enough of these delicious and tangy berries to stir up a batch of jam, a lattice topped pie, a berry sauce for ice cream, a creamy shake or sprinkled into pancake batter. They freeze very well and if you use them sparingly, you can enjoy them until next year's crop is on.

We hope this information is helpful in your search for Idaho's famous huckleberry. And we would also like to help in your search for a home. If you are a senior, call us at Autumn Cove, a manufactured housing community for 55+ in Idaho Falls. Our community is a great place to enjoy your retirement. If you need a family-friendly community, check out Pinewood Estates MHC. Both communities feature quality, affordable manufactured housing, and wish you happy huckleberrying!