baked oats green chile chicken enchiladas chow mein bakery-style butter cookies

copyright jennifer yu © 2004-2023 all rights reserved: no photos or content may be reproduced without prior written consent

to huck with it

Recipe: huckleberry jam

There is never a dull moment in summer. It feels like EVERYTHING happens at the same time! At least it felt that way last week. I suppose that’s to be expected right before a major summer holiday weekend. Or maybe it’s the heat? The heat makes me lose my mind. Luckily, I managed to up my longest distance to a 20.6 mile run on the coolest day of the week. Then I spent a good bit of time prepping food for our Fourth of July barbecue. Originally we had planned to have my parents and several of our friends up for dinner and then fireworks at our local reservoir. But our town, Nederland, has decided to stop doing its annual fireworks display this year, so everyone came over to our place and just ate a ton of food.

our natural version of a fireworks display

Kaweah was not doing well in the days leading up to the party. It worried us enough to think that this week we’d have to take her in for one last visit at the vet’s office. During the party, the loud voices and commotion stressed her out even though she was safely sequestered on another floor. After most guests had left, we brought her up to the main floor and she immediately hid in the office. I went to bed that night trying to prepare myself for the inevitable and crying into the darkness. The next day was dedicated to Kaweah. We didn’t move any furniture around or run the vacuum cleaner. We kept it quiet and calm. She snacked on raw beef and banana pupsicles and received lots of puppy massages and cuddles.

me and my pup

And what do you know? Kaweah was relaxed and happy. She was in good spirits and pretty mobile (as mobile goes for a 15.5 year old lab). Over the next two days her energy and mood were improved. Jeremy and I have been preparing ourselves for the end for so long now that we just don’t assume anything anymore. We take it one day at a time and play it by ear according to Kaweah’s needs. Emotional roller coaster? You bet it is. Kaweah has never been much of a planner, so it seems that this is all par for the course. Each day as it comes. Every day is a gift.

maybe the camera has a treat

Of course, I *am* a planner. I’ve been waiting for July to get here since last August. “Why is that?” you may ask. Because the season is fast upon us…

a porcini with a 77mm lens cap for scale

Yes, porcini season is right around the corner, but it’s not the porcini in the picture that I’m super psyched over. See all those green plants that the mushroom is nestled in? Those are huckleberry plants, and huckleberries are what I’m ALL about.

flowering huckleberries

Huckleberries are the number one single most awesomest bestest berries in this whole wide world. I am obsessed with huckleberries and they are coming into season in my local mountains this month. It takes a lot of time and patience to hand-pick hucks in the wild because the plants are low to the ground and the berries are underneath the leaves. That means your quads, buttocks, and calves will get a GREAT workout. I can pick about 1 cup of hucks in one hour and it takes about 2.5-3 cups of berries to make a pound.

two pounds of hucks from last summer (frozen)

thawing out the berries

I had squirreled away the final haul of berries from last summer in my chest freezer, wringing my hands over what to make with them. Precious precious berries must not be wasted on crappy recipes. Whenever I would see Wendy in the winter, she would ask if I had done anything with the huckleberries and then scowl at me when I said I hadn’t. “Each day you don’t use them, they lose a little bit of flavor,” she admonished. She was right, of course. Whenever we opened the chest freezer to get something out or put something in, the heavenly odor of huckleberries danced into our nostrils. I finally decided on making huckleberry jam this past March.

water, lemon, huckleberries, sugar, brown sugar

zest and juice the lemon

boil the water, sugars, and lemon juice

What prompted me was Costco. Actually, it was a jar of huckleberry jam at Costco. I had never seen such a thing and my left eye got all twitchy thinking about huckleberry jam. Wendy was with me and she gave me that “I don’t know…” look. I thought $8 was worth the risk. Well, that was $8 of flavorless soulless dead huckleberry jam. I wanted REAL huck jam, so I was just going to have to make it myself.

add the berries

and the lemon zest

simmer it for 30-45 minutes

Since I had a limited amount of berries to work with, I found a recipe for making a small batch of jam. I wasn’t planning on canning the jam, it was just going to go straight into the refrigerator. The jam simmers down in under an hour and the final yield was just over 1.5 cups. My kitchen smelled intensely of huckleberries.

pour into a glass jar

let cool

The flavor of MY huckleberry jam was the real deal – a concentrated punch-in-the-face beautiful mountain summer flavor that no other berry comes close to. Tasting my foraged huck jam drove home how awful that store-bought version was. It’s a little too intense eaten straight up, but spread it on toast or stir it into oatmeal or yogurt for the full effect of huckleberry amazingness. My fingers are crossed for a great huckleberry season!

huckleberry jam, part of any kickass breakfast

the berries are little, but they pack big flavor

Huckleberry Jam
[print recipe]
from this recipe

3/4 cup water
1 lemon, juice of
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 cups huckleberries, fresh or frozen
1 tsp lemon zest

Place the water, lemon juice, sugar, and brown sugar in a medium saucepan over high heat. Stir to dissolve the sugars. Let it come to a steady boil. Stir in the huckleberries and the lemon zest and let the contents return to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer. Let simmer for 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the jam is thickened, pour it into a clean jar and let cool. Store in the refrigerator for several months. Makes about 1 1/2 to 2 cups.

more goodness from the use real butter archives

huckleberry ice cream blueberry hand pies blueberry pear pate de fruits blueberry scones

29 nibbles at “to huck with it”

  1. Jayne says:

    There will never be enough preparation for the last journey, we just have to live a day at a time and make the most of it. When my beagle left, it took me about year to recover. But what matter most is knowing we have been a big part of their lives, as much as they have been in ours. And I choose to believe, all dogs go to heaven :)

  2. Sherry says:

    When I saw that black and white photo, I prepared myself to read about Kaweah’s passing. I hadn’t read the paragraph above it yet because I saw the photo first so I’m so glad to read that she’s still here.

    Now that I think about it, it seems uncharacteristically dramatic for what would be such a sad topic…

  3. Melissa @ acozybee says:

    I love huckleberries. We don’t have them in TX but when I lived in ID I couldn’t wait for September’s pickings on Scout Mountain.

  4. jill says:

    our dog passed, very unexpectedly, last night…
    please take some time today to look into Kaweah’s eyes and remember all the good times..

  5. Judy says:

    Your website is one of my favorites. I love to look at your photography, read your descriptions of activities and views, and check out your recipes. Some of your recipes have become my go to entertaining foods…but I also read to see what is going on with kaweah. I can still get emotional about my last dog, who was diabetic, arthric, and blind for the last three years of his life. What a boy! You are doing such a great job with Kaweah, letting her determine her life. Thanks for sharing all of it.

  6. Eva says:

    Huckleberries are fantastic! We (in Austria) use them for pancakes, but with a very high berry/batter-ratio – it’s almost only berries with just enough batter to make everything stick together. Also, the picking goes a lot quicker with one of these: – less meditative, but more effective.

  7. dina says:

    there is nothing like homemade. it looks great!

  8. hungry dog says:

    Glad Kaweah (and you all) are still hanging in there. I know these are tough days (been through it myself)–but you seem to have the right attitude–just appreciating every day you have with your sweet girl. Big hugs!

  9. debbie says:

    I truly believe that animals are gifts from God just like children are. Love all your photos and updates on Kaweahp23N. Animals bring us so much joy!

  10. Ethel says:

    longtime lurker South of Boston and just wanted to say that taking each day…one day at a time is all you can do right now. Just be present and enjoy it. I lost my 13 yr old weimaraner (Lucy) last April and my 12yr old lab (Bailey) last October. Lucy was a shock but the time I had with Bailey afterwards…taught me so much about being present and enjoying each day. *hugs*

  11. Kath the Cook says:

    happy thoughts and huckleberry days…..

  12. Marisa says:

    Our most beloved dog died in January. Every year she helped herself to the huckleberries and blueberries from 4 big bushes in our berry garden. Yesterday we were astounded at how big a crop we’ll have this year, if no one else gets ’em. We’d gladly offer them to our old gal pal if she was still with us. Meanwhile, black currants are ready to be picked and large batches of jam are in the offing.

  13. Louise says:

    Love the selfies! She is such a gorgeous pup

  14. Pey-Lih says:

    Loved reading today’s blog and everyone else’s response and encouragement! Every day is a truly a gift and so are your recipes. Thank you always for sharing!

  15. Kristin says:

    The berries & jam are lovely, but not as beautiful as the photos of you & Kaweah.

  16. jill says:

    That was wonderful of you to provide a quiet environment for Kaweah. Parties can stress out our fur babies. You are the most caring/sensitive parents!

    My Michigan family sends me Thimbleberry Jam each year for Christmas. I think it’s about $20 for a small jar. OMG it’s delicious. On warm baking powder biscuits……I’m drooling. I think they must be similar to Huckleberries, especially in size.

  17. sassygirl says:

    we love huckleberries and xxx-love the pix of you and kaweah!
    we enjoy each day to the fullest. loved today’s post.

  18. farmerpam says:

    I’m already crying over Kaweah. I love the pics of you and her. Enjoy and cherish these times.

  19. Kate says:

    Wishing sweet Kaweah more happy, healthy days!

  20. CoffeeGrounded says:

    Can I come to breakfast? I’ll bring freshly roasted coffee beans for Jeremy and a bucket of surprises for you. I won’t need eggs or bacon. Toast and huckleberry jam will be fine. I’ll ‘babysit’ Miss K while you and Jeremy get your morning run in, and I promise I’ll clean up the dishes from breakfast. Please!!!!!!

    One day at a time. It sounds so easy, but in reality it takes an inner strength of fortitude and grace. I begged and pleaded with the gods, made promises and smothered my cats in kisses. I begged. I pleaded. I cried. And then, I cried even more. Love isn’t meant to hurt, but it’s that selfish part within our soul that really holds the script to our pain. To let go, to muster the courage to accept the reality is devastating. I do not want to consider the thought of losing my Hannah, but there is also that part of me that prays she never loses me. I would rather hurt, emotionally, than for her to grieve my absence. I don’t know of a better doggie mama and daddy Kaweah could have been gifted to than you and Mr. J. Thanks for keeping us posted, and thanks for giving us the mutual hugs. Both of you radiate love and gratitude. As always, I love to see that puppy dog. We are blessed! XO

    They come to us as gifts. Sometimes we have to gift them back in order to realize they have a mission far greater ahead of them. No matter how you feel, there is a greater force in this world of ours. Call it God, Allah, Budda, or what you wish, but nothing is random. This world is simply to splendid to be cast off as an accident. Kaweah will always warm your heart, just as yours and Jeremy’s will warm hers. Love is eternal, infinite and promised.

  21. jenyu says:

    Jayne – the best we can do is give them a full and loving life. So true.

    Sherry – we’re not fans of the drama here :)

    Melissa – ahhh, Idaho is even better than Colorado for hucks!!

    jill – I’m so very sorry. Sending hugs to you as you miss your sweet pup.

    Judy – thank you xo

    Eva – wow!!! What an awesome thing! I’ll either have to order one or make one of my own! :) Thanks for the link!

    dina – :)

    hungry dog – thank you!

    debbie – they really do.

    Ethel – you are so right. I’m so sorry about your pups. xoxo

    Kath the Cook – thanks :)

    Marisa – awww, I totally know what you mean <3

    Louise - :)

    Pey-Lih - thank you.

    Kristin - xxoo

    jill - mmm, thimbleberry jam!! That's another yummy berry!!

    sassygirl - xo!!

    farmerpam - you're so sweet, xoxo

    Kate - thank you!

    CoffeeGrounded - ;)

  22. Kate @ ¡Hola! Jalapeño says:

    I remember eating tons of huckleberries when we lived in Montana. That jam looks absolutely perfect!

  23. Jennifer says:


  24. Nicole says:

    Could I process this recipe for putting up? It’s absolutely GREAT and I’d like to have some in winter.

  25. jenyu says:

    Nicole – yes, I believe you can. I haven’t tried it yet, but it should work.

  26. Anne D says:

    thankyou for the recipe and your thoughtful comments ,.. my huckleberries are HUGE and they don’t taste nice at all in their raw state so I wasn’t sure what to do with them and that’s how I found your blog… I’m going to try a small batch of your recipe today. Hope all is still well with your pup, we had a golden live to well past 14 and a poodle til 16 1/2… it always breaks our hearts to let them go but they make our heart muscles stretch so much just by being in our lives… Best wishes…

  27. Heather says:

    Hello. Just found out today that my little (Canadian) Mountain town has a whole field of these berries! Went out today and picked a whole bucketful! While looking online I found your site and decided to make this jam with my hoard. I think I will pack it into smaller jars and give some out to the people who showed me their secret berry spot today! Can’t wait to try the jam!

  28. sarah says:

    I made your Huckleberry Jam recipe as I looked and yours was literally the only one without Pectin added, which is what I want. It came out so delicious, bright berry flavor, that it is now my new favorite!! Thanks

  29. Amy Whitford says:

    I LOVE your huckleberry recipes! They look so yummy! I just put together a list of 28 uses for huckleberries on my blog. I usually just list the health benefits and uses and just say recipes are a use. I couldn’t help actually giving 4 of the uses to your recipes, they looked so heavenly. It might have had something to do with the fact that I had a bowl full of huckleberries on my counter calling my name. Check out the whole list at my site in the huckleberries uses post.

leave a reply