Back Forty, Local food

Of cherries and mulberries

I was wrong about the white Nanking cherries. They are ripening and they are good! They’re a bit larger than the red Nanking cherries, and have a pink blush when ripe. And I also discovered that I was picking the red Nankings a bit too early. Last year the birds swooped in and finished them off before they fully ripened. This year, for some reason, they haven’t, and they are very sweet now that they’re totally red.

Yesterday when I went to the curb market, the mulberries beside the bridge over the creek were still full of huge ripe berries. A man was using a cane to hook down a branch for people to pick them and try them. Most people had no clue what they were. After I finished my grocery shopping, I got a plastic grocery bag out of the car and walked down the creek until I found another mulberry tree with huge ripe berries hanging right at eye level, easy pickings! They are extremely juicy and turned my hands bright purple. Late that afternoon, I ate them over vanilla ice cream.

Like most people nowadays, I didn’t know what mulberries were or that they were so sweet and delicious for most of my life. I only knew that if you parked your car under a mulberry tree in May, you’d regret it. Also that the bird bombs were pretty bad this time of year. I lived in a house once that had a mulberry tree and a very old apple tree and I never took advantage of either, even though I knew that the apples were very good. It was a tough time in my life and my focus was not on food, but I didn’t appreciate good food at the time anyway.

Once I knew that they were edible, I found it frustrating to remove the stems. Then I had a mulberry parfait at a Slow Food event at a swanky restaurant, and they didn’t remove the stems. That removed my last inhibition for eating mulberries – I don’t even notice those pesky stems anymore.

I couldn’t find any recipes for preserving mulberries in my cookbook collection, except one reference in Stocking Up that said to treat them as a soft berry. (No kidding – they are really delicate!) I did a search online and the first hit gave me pretty much all I need to know about preserving and cooking with mulberries. I might make some syrup but I’ll probably just eat them raw!

I won’t have enough cherries to preserve, and the fruits are so small that I don’t want to bother with pitting them anyway. But they will make great snacks for a while. Shoot, I feel like I’m on my way to become a raw foodist these days. It won’t happen, but I’ve enjoyed being able to not cook much lately.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.