I’ve never given thought to huckleberry. I’m not sure I ever realized it was a real berry. Though red and black raspberries, blackberries and mulberries once dominated the Ohio fields around me, huckleberry was a silly word used to add flavor to country characters. Huckleberry Finn and Huckleberry Hound come to mind. If he truly was a huckleberry-sniffing hound, then I applaud him. Now that I’ve tasted huckleberry, I started sniffing out more places to taste them as I traveled through Montana.
What Is Huckleberry?
Huckleberries are similar to blueberries, but a little more tart than blueberries. There are a variety of species, but the huckleberries grown in Montana are distinct and are not cultivated commercially, so they have to be found in the wild.
Huckleberry Muffins & Flavored Souvenirs to Take Home
My first taste was at a pit stop I made while driving along I-90. I saw billboards for Wheat Montana and decided to pull off for coffee and bite of food.
It smelled fantastic inside. The motto painted on the side of their deli-bakery building sitting along the highway by a truck stop read:
We grow it. We sow it. We dough it.
The place was busy; seemingly filled with regulars who passed this way frequently. A few small tables were taken with one or two people having a sit-down breakfast with some of the baked goods. I waited in line until I got to the register, and though I’d only been sure about getting a coffee, now I needed to know what flavors I was looking at through the glass case. Especially the muffins.
There were many, but the first flavor she named was huckleberry, as though that were as common as vanilla in the line-up. She continued on with things I’ve had at hundreds of other bakeries, but I wanted to try the huckleberry muffin.
While I waited for fresh coffee to brew, I wandered around the shelves of baked goods and then the shelves of tourist-appealing flavors that all featured huckleberry: flour, pancake mix, syrup, honey, muffin mix, brownie mix, huckleberry cordials and coffee.
The woman at the counter walked over to me with my huckleberry muffin in a slim paper bag. The summery-berry scent wafted out and I was hooked. I filled my arms with syrups and honey to take home.
Huckleberry Mules in Butte
I was hungry for a nice, juicy burger after a long day of driving and touring around Butte’s many sites. Once I’d checked into my room at Copper King Mansion, I headed to Sparky’s Garage.
I’d noticed the place as I was driving around the town sightseeing earlier. It looked like a good place to get a burger and a beer. I was partly right. It was a good place to get a burger, but something caught my eye on the cocktail menu. It was still Happy Hour and my eye was drawn to the Huckleberry Mule:
It arrived chilled in a copper mug. I rarely order mixed drinks. They usually only appeal to me when there’s something special about having a certain drink in a certain place. This something special was having a huckleberry drink in the state of Montana.
I loved it! It was tart; a cross between a blueberry and a cranberry. Mixed with the ginger beer and lime juice, it was a heady combination. I’d have to look for this again.
I found it quite easily, actually, down the street from my B&B. My hosts there had recommended a new speakeasy in town: 51 Below
I walked into the Miner’s Hotel and descended the stairs to the right down into what had once been a fur vault before prohibition. It was revamped and restored into an underground speakeasy and it was here that I watched the bartender mash huckleberries into another copper mug. (Butte is built on copper mining.)
Delicious. I’d keep my eyes open for more huckleberry drinks.
Huckleberry Ice Cream
Back in Billings, we were served Huckleberry ice cream during our conference lunch. Listening to a local band while we enjoyed our treat was… well, a treat!
Huckleberry BBQ Sauce in West Yellowstone
Not surprisingly, I was very disappointed when the server at The Buffalo Bar in West Yellowstone told me that they’d switched out their Huckleberry Lager for the Oktoberfest beers. Are they crazy??!! Everyone serves Oktoberfest beer. You can get that anywhere. I REALLY wanted a Huckleberry beer.
She made up for it though by suggesting the Pulled Pork sandwich with huckleberry BBQ sauce, pico de gallo, and melted Swiss cheese on a hoagie. It seemed like a strange combination, but it was delicious! And she brought me extra huckleberry BBQ sauce on the side to dip my fries, so all was forgiven.
So, Where Can You Buy Huckleberry Foods?
Everywhere! In restaurants, gift shops, airports, national parks, probably even in gas stations. You don’t need to sniff these delectable treats out like a Huckleberry Hound; they’re going to be right in front of you everywhere you look.
What kind of huckleberry food do you think you’d like to try?