Tasty Treats to Make With Mulberries
It’s one of my favorite times of year. The volunteer mulberry trees in my yard have begun popping with mulberries, and the kids have come inside from a morning out in the yard with purple mouths and sticky hands. I’ve never been a huge fan of cooking with the berries – we usually just grab some off the tree, wash, and eat. This year, however, I’m determined to supplement my groceries with the tiny dark berries. Here are my favorite ways to put them to good use.
What’s a mulberry? These tiny, purple/black berries look like tiny raspberries, but aren’t as tart or sweet. They are actually at bit on the bland side, as berries go, and they fall easily from the tree when ripe. (The berries set on a white color, then darken through varying stages of pink, red, and finally purple/black when ready to eat.)
How do you harvest them? There are as many ways to pick the berry as there are to eat them. I use a combination of letting the kids go out every morning when it is cool and climb up into the tree to hand pick them. They eat half of everything they harvest, but it is a fun activity for them to do in June, and it gets some of the picking done with no effort on my part. When my husband and I have found that most of the berries are ripe, we put down a large blanket under the tree and shake the branches, letting the ready ones fall to the blanket below. (Obviously, you will want to use an old sheet or blanket, as it will get rather stained in the process!) Then we shake all the berries to the edge of the blanket, dump them into a bucket, and bring them in for rinsing. (I use a salad spinner to rinse and gently extract the water from them. They are very delicate!)
What are they good for? Like most berries, they can be used for baking, jellies, and desserts. My favorite way is to eat them by themselves, and they should be used within 2 days of picking for the best flavor. I’ve also found a few very good recipes for ever the beginning berry hunter to explore:
Mulberry Muffins (via Marilyn Maggio at AllAboutStuff.com)
¼ cup shortening 5 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup sugar 1 teaspoon salt
2 beaten eggs 2/3 cup milk
2 cups flour ½ cup mulberries
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cream shortening and sugar together. Add eggs and mix well. Sift 1 ½ cups flour, baking powder, and salt together. Add this mixture to egg and sugar mixture alternately with milk. Sprinkle mulberries with remaining flour and stir lightly. Bake in grease muffin pans for 25 to 30 minutes.
Mulberry Preserves (via Just Berry Recipes)
20 fl Juice from damaged mulberries
2 1/2 lb Sugar (5 cups)
2 lb Mulberries
Using damaged mulberries, reduce them to juice in the usual way. Put the juice into a preserving pan with the sugar. Bring to the boil, stirring, and then skim. When moving vigorously, tip in the mulberries. (They should be ripe but not soft enough to mash.) Take the pan from the stove and leave until the fruit is warmed through (taste one). Then put back on the heat and boil gently for about 15 minutes. Pour carefully - so as not to break the fruit - into a large bowl. If, however, you are using a stainless steel preserving pan, you can leave the mulberries in it.
Next day, bring to the boil and simmer steadily for 15 minutes, or until setting point is reached. The point of this careful method is to keep the fruit as intact as possible. You can avoid breaking the fruit 'by gentle stirring, and by simmering the fruit very slowly. Put into jars to store.
Other fabulous ideas include:
(Note: It is not completely agreed upon whether you have to remove the stems in every recipe you make. Some baked items, like pies, can contain stems. They will soften and absorb the flavor of the dish, and no one will likely notice them. Other dishes, like the ice cream, will require you to remove the stems and caps… a very time-consuming practice.)
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