The hot dry weather in the Pacific Northwest has pushed the berry season along at a rapid clip. It looks like the red huckleberries have already peaked through much of the lowlands around Puget Sound, with our native blackberries close behind.
On Sunday I took a class berry-picking on Bainbridge Island. Whereas two years ago on the same date we had bushes overflowing with red huckleberries and even salmonberries, this year the red hucks were already long past their prime and there wasn't a single salmonberry in sight. The sunny spots still had a few trailing blackberries, and we found one patch of blackcap raspberries. I watched a towhee skillfully nabbing huckleberries on the wing, a hint of where all the berries had gone.
Nevertheless, we managed to pick enough huckleberries to make berry tartlets (see recipe here) back at the park center, putting a sweet exclamation on a day pleasantly divided between field and kitchen.
Author of award-winning The Mushroom Hunters and Fat of the Land, Langdon Cook is a writer, instructor, and lecturer on wild foods and the outdoors. Cook has been profiled in Bon Appetit, WSJ magazine, and Salon.com, and his writing has appeared in numerous magazines, newspapers, and online journals. His on-screen credits include the PBS TV series "Food Forward" and The Travel Channel's "Trip Flip."