Recently you may have noticed a neighbor reach up to a street tree, pluck something off a branch, and pop it in his or her mouth. Or, perhaps you’ve been curious (or bothered) about the sudden appearance of dark red splotches on many area sidewalks. Either way, you’ve encountered mulberry trees, which are currently dropping their ripe berries all over the neighborhood.
The first thing you’ll note about the mulberry is that they are very much trees, not bushes as “Pop Goes The Weasel” might have you believe. We have a few large ones in the area, including one on the corner of Stratford and Turner, and another on the corner of Newkirk and Westminster, that are almost out of reach even for the tallest of you. But you’ll come across many that are smaller, some that are attractively pruned, and plenty that are easily accessible.
They’re pretty easy to identify — look for the stained sidewalk full of squished berries. Once you find one, ask the owner whose property it’s on if it’s okay for you to pick them. Generally, I’ve found that people are happy to have you picking them, since it can mean less clean-up.
Picking mulberries can be a fairly messy event, since you’re going after the dark purple-red berries (there is a white variety, but I haven’t seen those in our area), so wear appropriate clothing. You’ll end up with stems attached, which is fine, since those are edible. The berries are pretty fragile, so you’ll probably want to make something with your harvest right away.
After rinsing them well, you can simply snack on them, or you can go a little further:
• If you’ve picked a ton and you’re feeling industrious, try making jam.
• A pie (pictured, via This Year’s Love) makes for a rich but pretty simple desert.
• Vegan? Try a crumble, or a cake.
• You can also use them in savory dishes, like this one for grilled chicken.
Got any other recipe tips? Know of any good mulberry trees for picking in the area? Let us know!