Thursday, June 26, 2008


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.


At June 26, 2008 at 2:28 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was fabulous! Please share the recipe.

At June 26, 2008 at 7:48 PM , Blogger SaraGardens said...

Mmmm, berries! I was just this moment thinking of you, because I ate our first ripe blueberries as I walked in the front door. Then I realized I could have photographed them. Isn't it nice to discover you have a friend with significantly less self-restraint in the face of ripe berries?

I'm also wondering whether you'd like to include a Rubus odoratus in your edible front garden. They were so tiny when I came out to see you, I didn't even consider it. My how things change at midsummer!

At June 27, 2008 at 5:41 PM , Blogger Ellen Zachos said...

I just added the recipe and a link to the balsamic/basil maceration.

At June 27, 2008 at 5:59 PM , Blogger Ellen Zachos said...

Sara, I think this would work wonderfully with blueberries, although it will still be a week or two before they're ready here in PA.

The deer are wreaking havoc w/my edible front garden so I'm not going to put anything new in till I get the situation stabilized. Or kill something.

At June 30, 2008 at 1:09 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...


Yum! Mulberry trees are illegal here, but I sometimes see them in old neighborhoods, I'll keep my eye out for fruiting females (trees!).


At July 3, 2008 at 12:42 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

your bowl is full of all pick the white and pink ones also?

At July 3, 2008 at 1:07 PM , Blogger Ellen Zachos said...

I pick the ripe red and white mulberries. (The black isn't hardy here.) Ripe red mulberries are pretty much black/purple, but some of them (depending on the tree) have a reddish tinge. The key is that if you have to tug the berry off the branch it's not ripe. If the slightest touch makes it fall into your waiting's ready to pick and eat.


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