One day Katie and her friend went to pick
so they could make a Wild Huckleberry Pie!
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
one for them
and one for us.
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.
Now, they can’t tell you where they found the
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.
if you’re lucky enough to pick some of your own
after that first
you might just want to cry
they’re that good.
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
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.
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?!”
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.
- 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
- Whisk together flour and salt in a large mixing bowl.
- In a one cup measuring cup, whisk the egg and then whisk in the vinegar. Add the ice water until you have one cup.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Refrigerate the dough while you make the filling.
- 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.
- 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.
- Tuck under extra dough around the top edges and flute. We left the sides of the crust high to allow for any shrinking.
- 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.
- 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.
- Lightly brush the lattice portion of the crust and liberally sprinkle with coarse sugar.
- 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.
- Remove and set on a wire rack to completely cool before trying to slice.. or you’ll have a runny pie.