by Moosetrack Megan
On Labor Day weekend, in the hills near Lolo Pass, high elevation huckleberries were still coming ripe and a good portion of my camping trip was spent gathering the berries for use in my wedding cake next summer. Anyone who lives in Montana and has hunted the purple beauties knows that finding a good patch and keeping it secret until this late in the season can be difficult, so stumbling upon a huge untouched patch was a counted blessing.
This summer has been one with few opportunities to gather the berries, but I’ve been chowing down on huckleberry ice cream all summer in a bit of a quest.
The Great Huckleberry Ice Cream Hunt of 2019 started out on a whim:
One night with family over from out of state my fiance and I needed to buy more than one pint of the Northwest special that cannot be found anywhere except the beautiful mountains of Montana. We bought three different cartons and decided to see which is best. Throughout the summer we tried other brands and it’s clear that no two are alike. While it’s hard to pit one ice cream against the other, I did come up with some notes that help me decide which brand of huckleberry goodness I prefer.
Huckleberry #1 : Big Dipper
Big Dipper’s take on “Hucklebeary” was delightful. The Missoula-based company’s creamy confection was rich and very strongly flavored with huckleberry. It was my personal favorite in the initial tasting.
Huckleberry #2: Wilcoxson
Wilcoxson’s is a Montana favorite. It’s less creamy and more sugary than Big Dipper in my opinion, but it was nice to see actual huckleberries frozen in the mix. It felt like the mom and pop-made deliciousness that it was. My favorite way to consume Wilcoxson’s huckleberry is via milkshake on a warm August day.
Huckleberry #3: Tillamook
Tillamook’s huckleberry flavor is a rich vanilla with a ribbon of maroon huckleberry running throughout. This ribbon and the vanilla are exquisitely paired so that one might not even notice that most of the product is vanilla. The strong huckleberry flavor runs throughout.
Huckleberry #4: Sweet Peaks
Sweet Peaks Ice Cream tasted a lot like the ice cream my parents used to make with one of those John Deere Hit or Miss Ice Cream makers when they had an ice cream business and used an Amish brand ice cream mix. It felt like I was eating something soulful, from a county fair. The huckleberry milkshake was incredible.
Try as I might, I didn’t find any other huckleberry ice cream brands over the summer and I’m open to more suggestions. The taste testing game was fun and I’m looking forward to next year’s Montana summer to try more.