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The Huckleberries of Glacier


You won’t get through Montana without seeing huckleberry products. These little gems are made into preserves, candies, syrups, candles, lotions, and soaps. The huckleberry is very similar to the blueberry, and incredibly sweet and tart at the same time. They have a long history in the northwest. The Native Americans used them as an important source of food, drink, and rich dyes. Because of the huckleberry’s unique flavor and challenge to harvest, it has become one of Montana’s hottest commodities and the main ingredient in one of the state’s fastest growing industries.

The huckleberry that grows in the mountains and forests of Montana is special. The berries only grow in the wild on bushes. They won’t bear fruit when transplanted or grown commercially, and availability varies year by year according to the whims of Mother Nature. In order to harvest huckleberries, pickers must go into the high mountain, Montana back country to find the bushes. “Bearing” in mind that huckleberries are a favorite food of grizzly bears, picking these tasty morsels isn’t just hard, but can also be darn hazardous.

No one knows just why huckleberry bushes reproduce or what makes one patch of berries good picking one year and not the next. To really enjoy huckleberries for yourself, try some of the wonderful products that you’ll see sold throughout the state. During the summer you can often find a special treat of fresh huckleberries for sale at the local farmers markets.

Reprinted from The Ultimate Montana Atlas and Travel Encyclopedia


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