Tuesday, April 20, 2010


One of the perks of living in Florida is that our stupidly-hot summers mean we get really early springs and therefore I get mulberries before anyone else on my flist (on any of the profiles, of which there are many). Last year, all spring long I got a grand total of one ziploc bag full of berries; this year, maybe because the winter was more... winterly... or because Jay cut a bunch of the branches off last fall, we're having a massive bumpercrop. They're literally falling out of the tree. All over the car* and where we park the bikes, all over the stairs and parts of the porch, there are little black gems glistening in the sunshine and slowly turning to a beautiful purple mash on every surface.

So for the last week, D and I have been spending a half hour or so each at different times of the day to gather the berries, mostly off the ground since the branches are all high like woah now that the low ones were cut, and it's been literally pounds of fruit. Half and hour twice a day for the last three days, and we've got seven or eight stuffed full ziplocs in the freezer just waiting for the fruit-rain to stop so I know no more will be coming and I can make jam**. Sweet, delicious, red-purple jam, using my new canning tools that I bought when we were wandering around walmart and found the corner of kitchen goods devoted to canning.

This isn't my picture, but it's exactly what our berries look like (only, you know, more Florida-ish):

And, like, absolutely encrusted with berries. Black and red like those blackberry-raspberry gummy things H likes. And on the other side of the driveway, there's this shrub that I swear was a hibiscus last year, a big red one, but this year grows back and happens to be a mulberry too, only as the big one is getting dark and juicy, this one keeps staying green, and I'm all 'WTF mulberry?' I was poking around on it today, and it turns out that it's different-- it's a white mulberry!
It was literally getting just as ripe, but neither I nor the birds could see it, because they look almost the same ripe as they do unripe-- they just get glossier and barely tinged pink instead of yellow-green. They're sweeter and lighter in flavor, and not as prolific, and seem to be later ripeners, since most of them aren't dropping while the black ones are all over the ground and my hands and my feet, but the tree has tons of berry action happening, and I've started a baggie of white ones, so maybe I'll make a batch of white mulberry jam, too, if I produces at least three pounds of fruit***.

I don't know about anyone else, but when I'm harvesting, I leave some of the low ones for the crawling animals, and I don't even try to get the high ones, but leave them for the flying animals, and I totally claim all the ones in between for myself. Sustainable and delicious. And later, after all the fruit has gone to dirt and the seeds have started sprouting, I'll go looking in the corners of the yard for babies, and pot them up and protect them. I had a few before the Killing Summer****, and I think it's time to get more.

So! In a week or two, I'll be making jam, and I'll share the recipe with pictures and all, and then I'll probably make a tea cake, because I absolutely love a nice dense British sponge cake with jam between the layers. We'll have High Tea on the back porch before it gets too hot and / or buggy.

Apparently, mulberries are superfoods. I went back and did a quick google and came up with all sorts of info on how full of antioxidants they are, and what to do with them.

*The car is quite colorful now, what with the yellow and brown pollen and the purple-red berries...
**And waiting for me to get new jars, since most of the old ones have been thrown out with the dregs of various old leftovers that got pushed to the back of the fridge and became unidentifiable.
***Because that's the recipe I use. I could cut it, I guess, if I really want white jam...
****You know, it was the spring before the Killing Summer, now that I think about it, that made so many berries before; maybe lots of mulberries = rough summer; we'll have to keep track of that.

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