Huckleberry

Food Type:
Age Suggestion: 6 months +
Nutrition Rating:How nutritious a food is with a focus on the specific nutrients babies need for optimal growth. The more nutritious a food, the more stars it will have.
Prep Time:How much time a food takes to prepare safely for a baby. The more time-consuming a food is to prepare safely, the more clocks it will have.
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Poop Friendly:Whether a food has qualities that help baby poop. Yes
Common Allergen: No
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a pile of huckleberries ready to be prepared for babies starting solids

When can babies eat huckleberries?

Huckleberries, if flattened or mashed to reduce the choking risk, may be introduced as soon as baby is ready to start solids, which is generally around 6 months of age

Where do huckleberries come from?

Huckleberry is a common name for different plants bearing small black, red, or purple berries, and for centuries, the fruits have nourished humans. Like blueberry, huckleberries are tundra plants that emerged across the Northern Hemisphere after the Ice Age. Even today, huckleberries mainly grow in the wild, thriving in alpine fields, boreal basins and bogs, and highland forests. Huckleberry is particularly popular in the northwest region of North America, where the fruit is gathered at berry-picking parties, a longstanding tradition across cultures.

Maya, 8 months, eats huckleberry in strips of pancake.
Cooper, 12 months, eats cooked huckleberries.
Julian, 2.5 years, eats huckleberries in a yogurt parfait with granola.

Are huckleberries healthy for babies?

Yes. While there is little data on the nutritional composition of huckleberries, they are members of a plant family that include blueberries, a fruit touted for a high concentration of antioxidants due to the dark pigment of their skins. We can surmise that huckleberries are at least similarly rich in vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamins C, E, K, manganese, and fiber. Together, these nutrients help protect cells, support the immune system and build healthy blood and bones.

★Tip: If you are foraging for your own huckleberries, do your research and consult with local experts to confirm that the variety that you are picking is edible—then be sure to remove the green unripe berries, leaves, and stems before you start cooking.

Are huckleberries a common choking hazard for babies?

Yes. The round shape of a huckleberry makes it a choking hazard for babies. To minimize the risk, flatten huckleberries into a disc shape between your fingers or cook them until they burst. Dried huckleberries can be rehydrated and flattened to reduce the choking risk. As always, make sure you create a safe eating environment and stay within arm’s reach of baby during meals. For more information on choking, visit our sections on gagging and choking and familiarize yourself with the list of common choking hazards.

Are huckleberries a common allergen?

No, huckleberries are not a common allergen, though information is limited.

As you would when introducing any new food, start by offering a small quantity for the first few servings. If there is no adverse reaction, gradually increase the quantity over future meals.

When can babies eat whole huckleberries?

Once an older baby or toddler is taking bites and not stuffing their mouth with food, they can typically manage fresh whole huckleberries in a safe eating environment. For many babies, this can occur between 9 and 12 months, but after the first birthday is more typical. That said, whole huckleberries are considered a common choking hazard until age four because of their round, firm shape. You may decide to work your way up to whole huckleberries by flattening them a little less each time you serve them.

Can babies eat dried huckleberries?

No. Hold off on serving dried huckleberries until a child is older, typically between 18 and 24 months of age. Dried fruit is both a choking hazard and a form of condensed fruit sugar. If a dish that you’d like to share with baby calls for dried huckleberries, make sure that they are rehydrated in warm water and then minced to reduce the choking risk.

How do you prepare huckleberries for babies with baby-led weaning?

6 to 8 months old: Cook fresh or frozen huckleberries into warm cereals until the berries burst, or add to pancake batter. Alternatively, smash whole berries that have been cooked until soft, then fold the smashed berries into soft, scoopable foods like grain porridge, ricotta cheese, or yogurt. You can also flatten uncooked huckleberries into a disc to reduce the choking hazard, but know that babies at this age may struggle to pick up the small pieces of food, and placing food in a baby’s mouth significantly increases choking risk. Avoid huckleberry jams, jellies, syrups, and other processed huckleberry products with lots of added sugar.

9 to 11 months old: Flatten huckleberries to make little discs and let baby try to pick it up. As you see signs that baby’s chewing skills are maturing, consider flattening the berries a bit less over time. Of course, you can also continue to serve cooked, burst huckleberries on their own or stirred into other foods.

12 to 24 months old: At this age, many toddlers are ready to eat a whole ripe huckleberry. Before you offer one, assess the ripeness of the berry and the child’s eating ability. If you see the child consistently chewing well and not overstuffing the mouth, and you feel comfortable, you may offer a whole huckleberry in a safe eating environment. Make sure to model how to crush the berry with your teeth and stay within arm’s each of the child. If the child is not quite ready for the whole berry, build up eating ability by flattening the berries a little less each time you serve.

Mix up your mornings with ideas from our guide, 50 Breakfasts for Babies & Toddlers.

What are recipe ideas for cooking with huckleberries?

Huckleberries taste delicious in sweet treats, but there are plenty of savory dishes that benefit from their sweet-tart flavor. Cook huckleberries into a sauce that balances the richness of meats like bison, duck, or venison and brightens toast spread with buttery chicken liver pate. You can serve the sauce on the cooked meats or use it as a marinade. Want to bake? Huckleberries work in plenty of baked goods that can be shared with baby, including muffins, quick bread, and pancakes.

Recipe: Simple Huckleberry Sauce

Yield: 1 cup (240 milliliters)
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Age: 6 months+

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (280 grams) black huckleberries
  • 1 tablespoon (8 grams) cornstarch (optional) 
  • ½ teaspoon (1 gram) ground cardamom
  • ½ teaspoon (1 gram) ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon (3 milliliters) vanilla extract
  • 1 orange

Directions

  1. Begin by washing the huckleberries. Pick through the berries and remove any stems. 
  2. Place the fruit in a saucepan. Cover and set the pan on medium-low heat. 
  3. Let the berries cook until they start to burst and release their juices, about 10 minutes.
  4. Cornstarch acts as a thickener, though it can be easily omitted if you prefer a looser sauce. If you’d like to use the cornstarch, scoop some liquid from the pot into a small bowl. Whisk in the cornstarch, then stir the slurry into the pot with the berries. This method helps avoid clumps that form when cornstarch is directly added to the full quantity of liquid.
  5. Let the mixture continue to cook in the pot with the cover off until it has thickened, about 10 minutes. Stir occasionally to stop the sauce from scalding on the bottom of the pan.
  6. Stir the spices and vanilla extract into the mixture. You may omit the spices if you like–or use whatever spices you prefer.  
  7. While the mixture is thickening, wash, dry, and zest the orange. Stir the orange zest into the mixture and store the orange for another use–or snack on it as you cook.
  8. Remove the pot from the heat once the mixture has thickened and allow it to cool in the pot for 5 minutes. At this point, the mixture can be transferred to an airtight container to store in the refrigerator or freezer for future use. 
  9. Huckleberry sauce tastes delicious on savory foods like meats and vegetables as well as sweet foods like fruit and pancakes.

Serve the Sauce: 

  1. When you are ready to serve, drizzle a spoonful or two of the warm sauce over baby’s food. Serving size varies. Let the child decide how much to eat. 
  2. For toddlers, you might try offering a small bowl of sauce and let the child season their food on their own. 

To Store: Simple Huckleberry Sauce keeps in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 days and in the freezer for 2 months.

Flavor Pairings

Huckleberry pairs well with the flavors of amaranth, bison, corn, duck, manoomin (wild rice), and venison.

Reviewed by

J. Truppi, MS, CNS. Certified Nutrition Specialist®

V. Kalami, MNSP, RD, CSP. Board-Certified Pediatric Dietitian and Nutritionist.

K. Tatiana Maldonado, MS, CCC-SLP, CBIS, CLEC. Pediatric Feeding Therapist.

K. Grenawitzke, OTD, OTR/L, SCFES, IBCLC, CNT. Pediatric Feeding Therapist.

Dr. S. Bajowala, MD, FAAAAI. Board-Certified Allergist & Immunologist (allergy section)

Dr. R. Ruiz, MD, FAAP. Board-Certified General Pediatrician & Pediatric Gastroenterologist