Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Mulberries are Falling! - May 9, 2012

Once a year you can easily find a delicious treat falling from the trees.  I don’t have mulberry trees in my yard, but I have always been able to find them in public places near by.  I am a runner, so I usually know it’s time when I run through a purple splat on the sidewalk, but if you watch throughout the year in walks through local parks or around your neighborhood, you can identify mulberry trees and watch for their ripening.  This year the ripening is early (many years I gather mulberries around Fourth of July).  I was fortunate to find a couple of trees with low hanging branches in Seneca Park.  The low hanging branches are important if you are gathering in a public location.  In this case, you can lay down a sheet or plastic sheeting and shake the lower branches including those you can reach with a stick.  If you are lucky enough to have a tree in your own yard, you can lay the sheet under your tree and leave it there for the berries to fall.

When you bring the berries home, clean them and discard the unripe berries along with any leaves.  You will notice that each berry has a small green stem where it was attached to the tree.  I used to worry about this and spend time cutting each one off, but since then, I have discovered that these just cook away and no one will know they were there.

I only make one thing with mulberries.  It is a true sign of Spring for me.  It is mulberry crisp.  You can also make this recipe with rhubarb, strawberries, blackberries or raspberries.  I especially like a combination of rhubarb and strawberry.

Mulberry Crisp

1 c. plus 1 ½ T. flour
½ c. brown sugar
½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. nutmeg
¼ tsp. salt
12 T. butter
½ c. rolled oats
6 c. mulberries
1-2 c. sugar
1 T. corn starch
½ orange
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.  Cut in butter.  Add oats and mix until crumbly.  Put in fridge.

Toss mulberries with sugar and cornstarch.  Add ½ tsp. orange zest and juice from ½ orange along with vanilla.  Pour mulberry mixture into baking dish or several small ramekins.  Top with crumble mixture from fridge.  Cook in oven preheated to 350 degrees for 25 minutes if small or 45 minutes if one large one.  Serve with ice cream.

If this isn’t your thing, you can cook mulberries in just about any recipe where blackberries are used including muffins, pies, and jam.  Have fun and write back about your success.

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