Wild Huckleberry Pie for The Canadian Food Project

One day Katie and her friend went to pick

so they could make a Wild Huckleberry Pie!

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Up the side of the mountain they hiked with their pails.

Katie picked three huckleberries and put them in her pail.

Along they went until they had picked just enough

for two mouths pies,

one for them

and one for us.

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They needed a little help along the way because they weren’t sure what

even looked look.

But they sure could find their way around a mountain,

being such awesome snowboarders and all.

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Now, they can’t tell you where they found the

….that’s top-secret.

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Growing up in Southern Alberta has its perks…

are rarer than a sunny day in spring in most parts.

They’re not “domesticated” so you can’t buy them, fresh or frozen, anywhere!

If you’re lucky,

are sometimes sold in secret,

cash and pies change hands with furtive over-the-shoulder glances

to make sure no one’s watching.

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if you’re lucky enough to pick some of your own

after that first handful mouthful

you might just want to cry

they’re that good.

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I helped Katie make her first pie.

We hustled up our own perfect recipe,

we added a smidgen of this and a smidgen of that, and we think we got it

just right.

Then I tasted my first ever slice of

“Oh, my gosh, this had to be the best darn pie ever!”I exclaimed,
with eyes saucered wide in  delight.

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Then it slowly dawned on me, that those


can only be found once a year,

in the wild,

high up on the steep side of a mountain where bears like to roam…

“I may never get the chance to taste this pie again!” I wailed.

“Oh, Mom,” Katie admonished, “Don’t you know, good things are worth waiting for?!”

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For the month of July, The Canadian Food Experience Project focus is on a Regional Canadian Food.

Wild Huckleberries are native to and well known in our Western Canadian Prairie Province of Alberta.  While they have historically been a favorite with the Crow Tribe, the bears most certainly know where to find them as well, since they pop up at higher, mountainous elevations only for a brief show in August.. they are a rare but fabulous treat. You can drive south and west from Calgary to Castle Mountain for their Huckleberry Festival this August 24th and enjoy the music and a pig roast.. and pick a few huckleberries. The chair lifts are opened on this one day only to carry Huckleberry enthusiasts up to where these sweet berries are found. But you’ve got to watch out for those bears, they love ’em too!

If you live in Canada, I encourage you to join our Canadian Food Experience Project which began June 7 2013. As we share our collective stories through our regional food experiences, we hope to bring global clarity to our Canadian culinary identity.



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Wild Huckleberry Pie
Cook time
Total time
Lattice Pie Crust
  • 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 lb lard, cold from the fridge
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • ice water
  • 4 cups wild huckleberries, rinsed and patted dry
  • 2/3 cup white granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp instant (Minit) tapioca powder
  • 4 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • heavy whipping cream
  • coarse sugar
Lattice Pie Crust
  1. Whisk together flour and salt in a large mixing bowl.
  2. In a one cup measuring cup, whisk the egg and then whisk in the vinegar. Add the ice water until you have one cup.
  3. Using a knife, cut the lard into large one inch cubes. Then, using a pasty cutter, cut the lard into the flour mixture until you have pieces that look like oatmeal and larger pieces as well.
  4. Quickly stir in some of the liquid using a fork. Gradually stir in additional liquid, stirring each time. Add only enough for the dough to start coming together. You’ll know you have enough when you can press with your hands and the dough forms a ball in the bowl.
  5. Keeping the dough in the bowl. Press the dough into a ball. Cut into four large pieces for deep-dish pans or six pieces if you have regular pie pans. Flatten each dough ball into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap.
  6. Refrigerate the dough while you make the filling.
  1. Place washed and dried berries in a large bowl. Sprinkle with sugars and tapioca powder and gently stir in. Sprinkle over lemon juice, stir in and let sit for 15 minutes.
  2. Spoon filling into the unbaked pie shell, top with lattice. Lightly brush the lattice portion of the crush and liberally sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake as written above.
  1. After you’ve made the filling, remove two of your pie disks (the remaining two can be frozen for use later) and lightly flour both your countertop and your rolling-pin. Roll out one disk of the pastry until it is a circle larger than the bottom of your pan and sides. Make sure to lift and dust under the dough as you roll out. Repeatedly dust your rolling-pin as well so that the dough doesn’t stick to the counter. Lightly roll the dough around your rolling pan and lay it in your pie pan.
  2. Tuck under extra dough around the top edges and flute. We left the sides of the crust high to allow for any shrinking.
  3. Preheat the oven to 450°F. (Yes, 450°F, even with a convection oven.) Pour the filling into the raw pie shell. Roll out another disk of dough as above. Using a ruler or straight edge and knife, cut rectangles for your lattice top. Lay across in a weaving pattern. If a piece breaks, just tuck the end under the other piece and keep going, no one will know once it bakes.
  4. We had one inch thick pieces, but smaller ones would be more intricate. You can also buy a special pie crust cutting tool for making fancier lattice scalloped edges. Once the top has been laid across, pinch the edges to the sides of the crust.
  5. Lightly brush the lattice portion of the crust and liberally sprinkle with coarse sugar.
  6. Put the pie in the oven for 15 minutes. Then reduce the oven to 350º F, wrap the edges of the crust with foil to avoid over-browning and bake for an additional 25 minutes. We baked ours for a full 10 minutes longer. You’ll know the pie is set when the filling is fully bubbling between the lattice top.
  7. Remove and set on a wire rack to completely cool before trying to slice.. or you’ll have a runny pie.


  • Looks yummy 😀ReplyCancel

  • Huckleberries are a treasure here, and their locations are carefully guarded secrets. Ours are almost ready for picking.ReplyCancel

  • I just had lunch, thought I would be completely satisfied and happy until dinner time.

    Then, I clicked on the email notification of a new post from Just a Smidgen…

    Now I crave huckleberries… preferably in a slice of pie 😉ReplyCancel

    • Barbara Bamber | justasmidgen

      Haha, sorry Sally.. but your recipes do the same for me.. I’m just about to see your focaccia recipe:)ReplyCancel

  • All I can think about now is Huckleberry Pie! 😀
    It looks gorgeous, just as everything else you make Barb!ReplyCancel

  • I have always wanted to try huckleberries. I remember we tried sourcing them a while back for a NW state cooking adventure, but didn’t have any luck. They must be a real treat! The pie is picture perfect. I would love a slice right now. 🙂ReplyCancel

    • Barbara Bamber | justasmidgen

      They are native to different states as well, I think different species of shrubs, Kristy. I hope you find some one day.. or come to visit us! xxReplyCancel

  • Here at the lake in Maine and around our orchard in New Hampshire, we have wild blueberry bushes with tiny berries that are related to the huckleberries. It takes me picking from more than twenty or so bushes to get enough for one pie. I can relate to how special your pie is.ReplyCancel

    • Barbara Bamber | justasmidgen

      I believe there are different sorts of huckleberries, you probably have them, just a different plant? I think they’re difficult to pick here as well.. I’ll have to ask my daughter:)ReplyCancel

  • This is a new one for me. First time I have heard of huckleberries. YumReplyCancel

  • The huckleberries look utterly refreshing and delicious 😀
    Your pie is heaven!


  • Oh my this looks like a good pie.
    When I was in primary school we had a Birthday song we sang on assembly that went… strawberry ice-cream huckleberry fin, when you hear you birth month, stand up. I don’t think I ever realised that huckleberries were actual berries!ReplyCancel

    • Barbara Bamber | justasmidgen

      We had a skipping song that went like that, Claire.. Strawberry Shortcake, Huckleberry Pie.. who’s gonna be my sweetie pie? Then we’d skip fast saying the alphabet. When we tripped up we had to name a boy with a name starting with that letter.. scandalous:DReplyCancel

  • I have never tasted a huckleberry. I would love to go searching for huckleberries with you. I don’t know if there could be anything more satisfying than picking wild berries, coming home to turn them into a pie and then enjoying the fruits of your labour – what an awesome day xxReplyCancel

    • Barbara Bamber | justasmidgen

      It really was and we didn’t need too many berries to get a pie out of them. They are hard to find and pick. If you’re ever in the Calgary area I’d love to go with you:DReplyCancel

  • Strangely enough I have not heard of huckleberries, do they taste like blueberries? They sure do look like blue berries. The pies look wonderful and rustic.ReplyCancel

    • Barbara Bamber | justasmidgen

      They’re so similar, really.. I could make this pie with blueberries too:) They vary by color, a little more reddish and size of seed, the flavor is close to a blueberry, but I do recall noticing a difference. Maybe it’s that they’re not as sweet, but then again, some blueberries are not as sweet as others. I will have travel to pick some of my own this August..this August and do another taste test.. maybe take a few photos with them side by side?ReplyCancel

  • This pie looks AMAZING! I love the story along with it too, bummer you only get the berries once a year, but YES that makes it SO much better!! Well worth the wait! Gorgeous crust as well!ReplyCancel

  • Hi Barbara,your pictures are awesome! But whats the procedure for the filling, I’ll just have to throw the filling ingredients in a bowl and mix? Can I use any type of berries? or like a mixture of berries? Thanx!ReplyCancel

    • Barbara Bamber | justasmidgen

      Hi, Abby.. the changes are done on the recipe. I don’t think you could substitute any berry except maybe the blueberry. Once you start adding raspberries or blackberries, the water content of the filling would change quite a bit and the filling ingredients would be too runny.. you could try and experiment with changing up the minit tapioca.. maybe check a different recipe altogether to be certain:) Good luck! xxReplyCancel

  • I don’t suppose i’ll ever get to taste a Huckleberry, but I can dream, and enjoy your lovely post!ReplyCancel

  • I havent tried huckleberries yet but I bet it would taste really nice!ReplyCancel

  • Your pie looks luscious, Barb, and I bet it tastes fantastic, too. There’s something about a pie the main ingredient of which you’ve picked yourself. That could be cherries, apples, blueberries or, in your case, the mysterious huckleberries. Maybe it’s because you know that you could have easily eaten the berries rather than place them in the bucket and the pie is your reward. That pie of yours was some reward!ReplyCancel

  • This will be our first summer without huckleberries in a very, very, long time. In Washington we picked our own, but I have yet to see them in New Hampshire. I don’t think there’s enough elevation. Blueberries grow wild here though, so perhaps we’ll have to try that!

    Gorgeous pie! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • I have never seen these berries at home so I shall have to come and visit to taste your beautiful pie.
    🙂 Mandy xoReplyCancel

  • No wonder I have never tasted Huckleberries… The pie looks scrumptious!… DianeReplyCancel

  • Another one who’s never heard of Huckleberries before! We don’t get them in Australia. I can imagine I’d fall in love with them though, I’ve never had a berry I didn’t like! xReplyCancel

  • I’ve never seen huckleberryies before. They do look an awful lot like blueberries. I’m in the middle of reading Thoreau’s “Walden” in which he says that the only people who know how good a real huckleberry tastes are the ones who have eaten them directly off the bush.I guess that includes you:)ReplyCancel

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      Well.. they were amazing.. anything rare is always somehow more special:)ReplyCancel

  • Fantastic rustic pie!ReplyCancel

  • Barbara Bamber | justasmidgen

    Sorry Abby! My recipe didn’t copy correctly! I’ll add when I get home but for now:
    Place washed and dried berries in a large bowl. Sprinkle with sugars and tapioca powder and gently stir in. Sprinkle over lemon juice, stir in and let sit for 15 minutes.
    Spoon filling into the unbaked pie shell, top with lattice. Lightly brush the lattice portion of the crush and liberally sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake as written above.ReplyCancel

  • I didn’t realize huckleberries couldn’t be purchased anywhere! I know I’ve never even seen one, let alone tasted! But Smidge, that pie is just beautiful. They remind me of blueberries, but I’m sure they have their own distinctive qualities. Maybe one day I’ll have the opportunity to bite into a lovely huckleberry pie. I know I’d be a fan. 🙂 I’m looking forward to other Canadian “goodies” you might share.ReplyCancel

  • I saved this to read at a special time. Your pie is beautiful. They say they grow huckleberries up the road from me on Grizzly Peak (there is a California native variety), but I have never been shown the magic spot. We planted huckleberry bushes on our back slope, but the deer have destroyed most of the plants, much less any berries.ReplyCancel

  • Terrific looking pie! And some nice photos – you have some good light there. Huckleberries are great. They grow in some parts of the US, too, although they’re not nearly as common as blueberries in the wild. I’ve had huckleberry pie a few times, and it’s a real treat. Good stuff – thanks.ReplyCancel

  • I have always heard about these berries – but never found them. They look so tasty.ReplyCancel

  • Here, we feel much the same way about the wild blackberries. Your pie looks grand!ReplyCancel

  • Talked about deja vu – I could just smell this pie! Haven’t had huckleberries in years and miss them so much. I would LOVE a piece of this pie!!!ReplyCancel

  • I am very sad to say that I’ve never had huckleberry pie.

    This must change.ReplyCancel

  • Karen at the Back Road Journal is talking about blueberry pie…you’re posting about huckleberry pie…now I really want some pie! lol Love the pretty lattice work on the top. Never tried that myself yet. Maybe I should give it a go soon!ReplyCancel

  • Ah, all I can think about now is a huckleberry pie! My grandpa used to take me on big walks when I was a boy and we always came back with some forest fruit. Later my grandma baked a pie with fruit that we brought home. I still believe her pies were the best in the whole world. And yours looks just like the ones I remember 🙂ReplyCancel

  • wow smidge! that looks wonderful! I can imagine it to taste fantastic when it is still warm!

    i have never tried huckleberries. Are they like more like currents or blueberries? Wish I could go berry picking and then make a pie too! It’s never the same buying the berries.ReplyCancel

  • Beautiful, colorful food and fonts throughout the post. Love it:)ReplyCancel

    • Barbara Bamber | justasmidgen

      Thanks Wendy:)ReplyCancel

  • […] at Just a Smidgen from Calgary, Alberta, identifies the wild huckleberry as her regional Canadian food, celebrating it […]ReplyCancel

  • It sounds like my kind of festival, although this year I will be hosting a wedding shower for my daughter on the day:DReplyCancel

  • Well, IF I COULD…I would reach across this screen and cut a piece for me…these lips have never tasted Huckleberries! What a delight it would be!ReplyCancel

  • This is such a beautiful post Barbara! I’ve never heard of huckleberries (and I’ve only just discovered your blog today! It’s beautiful!) but this pie looks completely and utterly delicious. I love all of your photos. I need to hunt me down some huckleberries (or perhaps, more realistically I’ll need to substitute black or blueberries… sigh) xxReplyCancel

  • Magnificent looking pie! LOVE this post Barbara. It reminded me of picking wild blackberries for hours with my sister on a family holiday many moons ago, getting covered in scratches and dark purple juice; and our mum stewing our bounty for us with a touch of sugar. Just about the perfect day. Sounds like yours was too!ReplyCancel

  • Oh my! This is my first visit to your site, and it is beautiful. I am so glad I found you. I came frm Kitchne RIffs. This pie is delectable. Here in Southern Californai we never see huckleberries. That is a darn shame. Thanks for such a feast for the eyes a well as teh stomach. I am off to explore more of your site.ReplyCancel

  • Oh my! This is my first visit to your site, and it is beautiful. I am so glad I found you. I have come from Kitchen Riffs. This pie is delectable. Here in Southern California we never see huckleberries, and that is a darn shame. Thanks for such a feast for the eyes a well as the stomach. I am off to explore more of your site.ReplyCancel

  • Sylvia Bourne

    I grow garden huckleberry in Illinois. Are they different than the wild one? The seed package said boil until tender before adding sugar, as boiling in sugar will cause it to become tough. There is sometimes a bitter taste which disappears after the fruit has been frosted. If prepared before frost, parboil in water containing a small pinch of soda. Would lemon juice do the same thing?ReplyCancel

    • Barbara Bamber

      You’re really testing my knowledge this morning:D I found a website that discusses the types of huckleberries http://wildhuckleberry.com/species/ I believe ours were mountain huckleberries so would have a different flavor/texture from your garden berries. I would follow your seed package instructions, and perhaps cook the pie filling a bit first so you can adjust for sweetness? I don’t think soda and lemon juice have the same results. I’m no expert;) but I think the lemon is just for flavor. I sure hope that helps!! Good luck and let me know how it goes! xxReplyCancel

    • Barbara Bamber

      Also, just thought maybe the “skins” on your huckleberries are thicker and preboiling would help them to break and release their juice. I’d be careful not to overcook in water.. or you might lose the juice into the water.ReplyCancel

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