Hello Huckleberry

Serve up some sweetness thanks to these Montana berries

An abundance of riches — an opportunity that inspires us to be creative with a bounty of produce. When the riches are huckleberries —gallons of them — inspiration is easy.

The hucks came into our possession by being at the right place at the right time. Several years ago, we had been in Missoula in early August for a family wedding.

After the festivities, we decided to head north for a quick trip through Glacier National Park. Our leisurely drive up US 93 had us stopping at many roadside stands flush with Flathead cherries. We made good use of the large cooler in the back seat. Tucked on the east side of the highway was a small stand advertising that bluish-purple gem of a huckleberry. Needless to say, we stocked up. 

With such a bevy of berries, I made huckleberry pie, huckleberry jam, huckleberry muffins and we ended up freezing the rest.

The idea of ice cream came as we prepared a menu for a cookout planned for later that month. I scoured my cookbooks (I have many) and the internet and couldn’t find an ice cream recipe that would elevate the huckleberry to my satisfaction. So, I culled ideas and tips from several recipes and created my own.

For me, the compote is the key to bringing out the huckleberries’ flavor. Hope you agree.




  • 2 c. heavy cream
  • 1 c. whole milk
  • 6 egg yolks
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2/3 c. granulated sugar
  • ¼ vanilla bean (or ½ t. vanilla extract)


  • 1½ c. huckleberries
  • 3 T. granulated sugar
  • 3 oz water (1/3 cup)
  • ½ t. fresh lemon juice 


Combine the huckleberries, sugar and water in a saucepan and simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently to break up some of the berries, until it thickens, about 10 minutes. Take off the heat and add the lemon juice. Cool completely.


In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and salt. Set aside. Split the vanilla bean down the middle and scrape the seeds with tip of a knife into a saucepan and add the pod as well. Add the milk and cream and bring to boil over medium high heat, stirring frequently. Temper the egg yolks by slowly adding about a third of the milk mixture in a steady stream. Whisk well. Slowly add the rest of the hot milk, whisking well. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly. Be sure to scrape the bottom of the pan until the mixture has thickened and coats the back of a spoon or registers 170 degrees on an instant read thermometer (do not boil). Strain the custard through a fine mesh sieve, then allow to cool in an ice bath. If you aren’t using a vanilla bean, add the vanilla extract at this point. Refrigerate overnight. When the custard base and compote are cold, combine them in an ice cream maker, following the manufacturer's instructions.


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