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City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP
City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP

In season: mulberries

mulberries

"Squish.. Like grapes Daniel-san.."

I’m going to slightly deviate from my usual ethnic-leaning stories because of the abundance of mulberries around town. You can’t ignore it. Roads — at least intown where I live — are stained indigo about every 20 feet from felled ripe mulberries that have been smushed by passing cars and pedestrians. I’ve wanted to collect some when they come in season but always procrastinated.

Little did I know my building has a large mulberry tree in the backyard. Like blackberries, mulberries are best when dark blue and gently give away to the slightest of touches. Unlike blackberries that grow in thorned bushes, mulberries grow in trees that can dangle just out of reach for vertically-challenged people. Some people resort to laying a tarp underneath mulberry trees to collect their bounty; I have access to a ladder so I can forgo that process.

mulberries2

I picked a small bowlful of them this past Sunday, which I rinsed (small bugs are all over), de-stemmed one by one, and froze. I would have used them right then and there, but I had a long day and was fatigued. The obvious thing to do is to make jam, but I don’t eat jam so that would be wasted on me. I am also not a dessert person, but I am intrigued by a few mulberry dessert recipes I found on the internet.

Otherwise, I plan to throw a handful of frozen berries in smoothies from time to time. And I also thought about pairing some with stock and/or vinegar and making a reduction for a duck or lamb dish.

So now this is where you come in. Do you have any recipe suggestions? What do you like to do with mulberries?

- by Gene Lee, Food and More blog

– Gene Lee writes about International Cuisine for the AJC Dining Team. He also publishes his own blog, Eat, Drink, Man… A Food Journal.

11 comments Add your comment

Kay Stephenson

May 17th, 2011
11:19 am

Some good bourbon, 6-8 berries muddled, fresh squeezed lemon or lime juice and a dash of Angostura Bitters. Yum

StephieZ

May 17th, 2011
11:46 am

I hate mulberries. They don’t taste like anything and there is a tree situated directly over my sidewalk and porch that drops those damn berries all over. My carpets are stained because of that tree. I hate them!! Arg!

Hungry Gringo

May 17th, 2011
12:44 pm

These things freak me out. They look SO much like blackberries, but taste SO different. The cognitive dissonance literally prevents my brain from deciding whether I enjoy the flavor or not.

Gregg

May 17th, 2011
3:59 pm

The flavor is sweeter and more delicate and, happily, lacks the prominent seeds of the blackberry. They are more fragile to handle and collection more problematic. One excellent and simple use is cooked down, unsweetened, into a sauce to spoon over ice cream or sherbet. It can add a little cache to dessert, allowing guests to guess at the ingredient.

mrmambo

May 17th, 2011
5:18 pm

I consider myself Mr. Mulberry in my neighborhood…I’ve hit up our tree, the next door neighbor’s trees, and many others near us. I collected about 1 Qt (1 pound) on Sunday, which I turned into preserves; was my first time “canning” and it came out great!

(BTW–I didn’t even notice them until we got a new dog 5 years ago. He literally drags us down the street at 6am each morning to munch on them. We have to stop him at 2 minutes or his rear-end becomes a jelly factory.)

I’ve used them for: pancakes & waffles, muffins, cobblers, scones, and pies; in margaritas (crazy reddish purple freaks people out!); on chicken breasts and wings; and just eaten them out of hand.

Gene: there’s no need to pull off all those stems! It takes forever and they really disappear when you cook them.

And, yeah, some of them don’t have much taste–I find the last few weeks (now!) are when they’re the best. Just get the really dark ones that almost burst when you pick them. And, I’ll confess to picking them up off the sidewalk; I rinse them well and then let them bathe in a vinegar/water bath for a few hours to kill any beasties.

Kirk

May 17th, 2011
6:08 pm

They are really great for an impromptu food fight.

Whitney

May 17th, 2011
8:44 pm

Planted a mulberry tree last year, and it produced exactly 1 fruit this year. Maybe next year I’ll get 2!!

Gene Lee

May 17th, 2011
9:18 pm

@mrmambo – WOW – that bit about your dog.

@whitney – That made me laugh.

Monica Howard

May 18th, 2011
11:55 am

Whitney, that is funny, but true. We have one in our yard that’s about 3 years old – got about 8 berries and that’s about it! But, boy were they tasty. What do you do with them? Pop them in your mouth and enjoy – they make a great snack!

Gene Lee

May 18th, 2011
12:46 pm

Thanks for all of the suggestions. Have you heard of Asian (white) mulberry trees hybridizing with the more common red ones we have down here?

I have one of these Asian mulberry trees growing right next to the red mulberry I picked these berries from. The Asian mulberry is identifiable by their mature white fruit. These trees are right next to each other and I initially thought the fruit was white because it was more directly exposed to the sun. But I followed the branches and saw that they came from a different tree.

Here is a pic – http://www.flickr.com/photos/eatdrinkman/5730057876/in/photostream

Apparently the Asian mulberries were imported into our region some time ago to cultivate food for silkworms but now this particular tree is considered “invasive.”

Moneefah

May 19th, 2011
1:46 pm

First of all, let me say that I have a huge tree in my yard that hangs over my drive way and one in my back yard…….those darn berries are everywhere and stink after being on the ground for a minute!!!!!!! They get tracked into the house and are a pain to get out of the carpet. You can’t enjoy them for the birds and squirrels eating them. Anyway, my mother told me they make great cobbler :-)