Saturday, May 21, 2011

Mulberries Fruiting Now

Last week, which was the week of May 9th, I noticed my five year old mulberry tree, a transplant I got as seedling that spawned beneath my mother’s mammoth parent, had finally gotten old enough to produce. Last year I was able to pick a handful of berries through the whole season and they were small and not very tasty. This year however, I have hit the mother lode.

Every branch was covered from one end to the other with berries. Actually mulberries aren’t really berries. They are a congregate fruit made of individual drupes, much like the blackberry. On the plus side, mulberries are much easier to pick than blackberries because there are no thorns.

I knew the coming days of rain would knock off all the ripe berries so I grabbed a bucket and headed out to the back yard. It took about 30 minutes to pick the ripe berries. I can’t describe the feeling I had looking at the bountiful tree up close. I remember eating mulberries as a kid but of course not really appreciating them for anything but the taste. This was almost spiritually uplifting because I had planted this tree and nurtured it for five long years before seeing any real harvest.

Today’s efforts yielded about 1 ½ pints, closer to a quart. There are at least three times as many berries still ripening out there so I will be picking every few days for a while. I’m going to eat some of these fresh and indulge in a childhood memory revisited. The rest I will freeze. There are several recipes I want to try with these now that I have a supply. You can check out how to freeze them and the recipes on my Good as Grandma’s Food Preservation blog.

If you love berries, a mulberry tree can be a wonderful addition to your landscape or home orchard. Be warned though – the berries can turn everything reddish purple – hands, clothing. If you step on them, you will track purple juice into your home. Birds love them and will then poop purple. So do not plant one close to your house. In the back of your yard or out in an orchard setting is the best place for this specimen.