I've never seen a mulberry in a grocery store, have you?
Most people don't even know what they are. As I stood on a bench on Central Park West yesterday, reaching above me to gently pick the ripe fruit, an older woman sat down and asked what I was picking. I told her mulberries and asked if she'd like to try one. Clearly she thought I was trying to poison her, so I ate one first...then she took one.
She said she'd had a white mulberry tree once. She'd fed the leaves to silkworms and watched them spin silk, but she'd never thought about eating the fruit. Maybe it's just me, but if I had a tree that produced LOTS of berries, I'd at least do a little research to see if they were tasty.
I imagine mulberries aren't commercially available for several reasons. By the time they're ripe enough to eat they're so soft and juicy it's hard to pick them without squishing them. Also, they don't all ripen at once. You can pick from the same tree for 3-4 weeks, but you don't get the large harvests that might make commercial production viable.
This year I've vowed to get more creative with my fruit. Too many jams and jellies last year... couldn't give 'em all away. So last week, after Mark and I picked together in the park (it's much easier when one person pulls down a high branch while the other picks), I tried a variation on the strawberry-basil-balsamic vinegar recipe, substituting mulberries. After macerating the berries for about 90 minutes, the juicy mixture made a delicious topping for vanilla ice cream.
Last night Leda came for supper (after a frustrating, 2 hour strike-out hunting for mushrooms in the park) and the piece de la resistance was mulberry pudding! Pure mulberry goodness topped with a little unsweetened whipped cream, a sprinkle of basil leaves, and a few whole white mulberries. I used tapioca as a thickener, and I'm telling you, this recipe is a keeper. I see many puddings in my future.
1 c. mulberry puree
1.5 Tbs instant tapioca
1/3 c. sugar
combine in a saucepan and let sit 5 minutes
bring to a full boil (one that can't be stirred down) over medium heat, stirring so it doesn't stick
pour into bowls (or not) and allow to cool for at least 20 minutes
Do you like yours warm or cold? It's delicious both ways.