Monday, August 25, 2008

A Montana Wild Huckleberry Hunt

When August arrives in Montana there is usually only one thing on a foragers mind and that is huckleberries! The best and most prolific area in Montana for picking huckleberries is in the northwestern portion of the state but not much farther south than Flathead Lake although huckleberries can be found all over Montana, this area is the best by far. So, Maggie the wonder dog, my friend Scott and I jumped in the car and headed for them thar hills. You know when you're getting close because the air is permeated with the sweet aroma of ripe huckleberries. Just that sweet smell in the air is enough to get your nose twitching, your tail wagging and a little drool at the corner of your mouth...well,you get my drift... it's pretty darn exciting!

The last time I came up here with Scott, I actually caught Maggie in the act of plucking ripe hucks right off the bushes so I came armed with my video camera to see if I could catch this on video. She wasn't terribly cooperative but I did get just a few seconds of her eating them off the bush before she noticed me shooting footage of her and immediately stopped and walked away! A little camera shy are we Maggie? Or are you worried your four legged friends will think poorly of you eating berries? Huckleberry Hound Either way, there were plenty for all of us to pick and eat and come home with purple fingers and tongues.

I'm trying to decide what will be the first thing I'll do with them. Last time I made ice cream, a cobbler, muffins and froze the rest. This time I'm thinking maybe some jam or syrup? I'm just not sure yet. I didn't pick as many as last time as we got a rather late start this time. Either way, I'll post whatever I decide with a photo!

Notice the different variations of huckleberries in colors and sizes etc.
huckleberry habitat
Maggie eating hucks
Maggie and Scott

see Huckleberry Hound video link above

Friday, August 1, 2008

Picking Boletes... my alltime favorite!

I just love foraging for food and especially picking wild mushrooms. For the last week, my favorite mushroom of all has finally made an appearance in my mountain forests. I've been so patient this year as everything has been two full weeks behind schedule compared to the last several years. My Boletus edulis patch is no exception. I've been going up there and checking my spot since June 30th and going once a week since then and nothing until last Thursday a week ago. Finally, not only were there lots of them, but sadly, there were lots of blown out, old, fully spored and rotting ones.

Not to worry though, now that I've finally figured out how fast they can grow, I've got my finger on the pulse and won't miss any new and fresh emerging mushrooms from now on. I have to say I was amazed that I could go from no mushrooms at all of ANY kind, to full blown spored out mush in just one little week!

We had a little rain the day before I went up a week ago and then when I was there the day after that rain, I had found nothing. Then the following Tuesday, we had one of those crazy monsoon type storms that dumped a ton of rain in a matter of minutes, golf ball sized hail, sideways rain and winds up to 85 mph. When I returned to my spot just two days after that storm, I found all the boletes a person could dream of. So there you go...rain, rain rain = mushrooms!

Just to show you how much fun this is, and give an idea of the type of habitat and what these mushrooms look like, I've made a few little videos.

picking boletes video

porcini video

porcini video 3

porcini video 4

video 5

It's been a great season so far and I still have two weeks more to go! Now if only we could get a little more rain.....