Catch of the day: mulberries & strawberries fresh from the garden

As I was standing under the mulberry tree this morning (5/30/2012) picking a nice bowl full for a treat this evening, I considered what a great fruit this is. Sweeter than blackberries and no dangerous thorns to be concerned with while picking.

They do have those pesky stems to deal with, however. If you’re using the whole berries in a recipe, you can really just leave them, and enjoy the extra fiber they add to your dish. If you’re cooking them, cook with the stems on then press the cooked berries through a strainer. If you’re serving the whole fresh berry and can’t bear the sight or thought of the little stem, then spread the berries in a single layer on a tray covered with wax paper (not allowing the berries to touch). Freeze them for an hour or two and you’ll find it’s much easier to separate the stem.

(I read recently that a great way to protect your cherry crop from birds is to plant a mulberry tree nearby to distract the birds. I’m here to tell you, it doesn’t work. Every cherry on my tree  – all of 40′ away from the mulberry tree – disappeared in 12 hours last weekend.)

So plant a mulberry tree for the sheer enjoyment of its fruit. But don’t plant it near your driveway, near a deck or patio or above any area you don’t want splattered with purple-black mulberries and juice. My mulberry tree is actually my next door neighbor’s tree, half of which overhangs our side of the fence. Most of the stuff growing over on their side is actually trying to move to our yard, including a beautiful pale pink climbing rose and a boatload of honeysuckle that’s trying to kill both the rose AND the mulberry tree.

What to do with mulberries?

MULBERRY SAUCE (to top pancakes, crepes, ice cream, etc.) Here’s the recipe I use for any fruit sauce. You can edit it depending on how much fruit you have or how many servings you need, and how sweet you want it:

Put berries in a sauce pot over medium-high heat. Add sugar to taste; I start with about 1 part sugar to 3 parts berries. Cook until bubbly. Lower heat to medium-low and cook til berries are reduced. If the sauce isn’t thick enough, stir 3 tblsp cornstarch into 3/4 cup of water and pour into berries. If it’s too thick then add a little plain water, a little at a time to the desired thickness.

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