We grow Evergreen Huckleberries wild on our land – they grow well on the islands in the Pacific Northwest. Our work on our land has in fact led to a huge surge in plants, due to the thinning of the forests (for tree health). Now the huckleberries get what they need: sunlight and rain water. When they grow in deep forest they will grow to as high as 20 feet (sometimes taller) to seek out sunshine. They don’t bloom though. That happens on the edge of the forest. This year was a good crop, across all our acres. As a refernce, if you can grow Madrona (Madrone) Trees, you will find Evergreen Huckleberry nearby. They do NOT like wet feet, and seek out drier and rocky land. We live around 135 feet above sea level so have drier land, and are in the Olympic Rainshadow.
Evergreen Huckleberries are tiny. Picking them is a hands on harvest, and it takes a lot of time. I often pick in batches, till my fingers are stained, and I am tired. I freeze them, on cookie sheets, then transfer them to bags. Come Fall, when I have time, I pull them out and sort them frozen – picking out any unripe ones, and stems.
The berries range from glossy jet black, to frosted denim blue. It depends on where the plant is growing and how much sun they get. Size also varies, from tiny to nearly blueberry size. Again..how much sun and water they receive plays into it. The crop starts ripening in late August till first frost in early November kills them. Hard rains can wreck a crop if it gets blasted. But the ones with more protection tend to survive.
This batch of jam takes around 12 cups berries. So this is a labor of love to make seedless jam. So why seedless? Huckleberries have tiny seeds and I am not the biggest fans of them. So I extract the juice and thick pulp. It’s not jelly. It is jam. Just seedless!
Huckleberry Seedless Jam
- 4 cups mashed and strained huckleberries, measured after straining*
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice (1 large heavy lemon)
- 2 tsp calcium water**
- 1 cup honey
- 2 tsp Pomona’s Pectin
Add mason jars into a water bath canner. Fill jars with water and the pot about halfway. Bring to a boil.
Add the bands and new lids to a small saucepan, cover with water. Bring to a simmer, turn off.
Measure the honey into a bowl. Thoroughly mix pectin powder into the honey. Set aside.
Bring the mashed huckleberries, lemon juice and calcium water to a boil in a large stainless steel or non-reactive pot.
Add pectin-honey mix, stirring vigorously for 1 to 2 minutes to dissolve the pectin.
Stir well, and return to a full boil. Once the jam returns to a full boil, remove it from the heat.
Drain canning jars, place on a clean kitchen towel. Sterilize ladle and funnel using the boiling water in the canning kettle.
Fill hot jars to ¼” from top. Wipe rims clean with a new damp paper towel. Place a drained lid on each jar, screw band on finger tight.
Place filled jars in canning pot, lower rack in. Make sure the jars are covered with water. Bring to a boil, and maintain boil 10 minutes (add 1 minute more for every 1,000 ft. above sea level).
Remove jars from water. Let jars cool on a clean kitchen towel. Remove bands and wash, check seals on jars; lids should be sucked down.
Consume within 1 year, once opened eat within 3 weeks. Jam should sit for a few days/week before eating, as Pomona jelly/jam can take a bit longer to fully set up.
Made 5 8-ounce jars.
You can use whatever size mason jars you have on hand. I used 5 8-ounce jars.
*If berries are frozen, rinse and thaw in a large bowl. Mash with a potato masher as good as you can. Then press the mess through a fine mesh stainer. I used a spoon to gently press against the wall of the metal strainer. I repeat the pulp mashing twice, to extract as much as I can. I don’t use a berry bag to do this, as you won’t get any pulp.
**To make the calcium water, follow the directions in the Pomona package. It is the smaller of the two packets in the box. It keep nearly forever once mixed with water in your refrigerator.