Chances are, if you live anywhere East of the Mississippi, you are familiar with the prolific Mulberry Tree.
The specimen in my own backyard borders an alley and squirrel highway comprised of telephone and power lines. On any given morning from Mid June to late July the tree is filled with birds and acrobatic squirrels testing their limits and dangling from springy limbs like oversized Christmas tree ornaments. Last week I watched on as baby Cardinals learned to fly in between snack breaks on fallen Mulberries. It was pretty hilarious actually. Dad Cardinal would peck at the ground like fancy chicken and pick up a berry as if to say, "See? This is how its done, kid. Now you try." Kid Cardinal would then fluff up, shiver his wings and open his beak expecting to be fed. Dad would instead drop the berry on the ground only to pick it up again and the process would repeat.
While in season, I usually grab a handful of mulberries for breakfast or a snack but until this Summer, I had never taken the time to harvest enough to use in a recipe. Gathering mulberries can be a time consuming endeavor unless you happen to have the right tools....I recently learned that a canvas tarp and garden rake make quick work of Mulberry harvesting. Simply spread out the tarp beneath the branches and use the garden rake to shake out the mulberries.
Using this method it took about 5 minutes to gather 5 (crushed) cups of mulberries which I then transformed into 7 jars of mulberry jam. This was my first ever attempt at making jam (and canning) but my tastebuds have declared it a success.
I discovered an excellent mulberry jam recipe via Serious Eats blog post The Urban Gardener: Foraging Berries in Brooklyn but I needed to make a few adjustments to reduce the sugar content. If you are less sensitive to sugar than I am, the agave in my recipe can be replaced with 2 cups of sugar. It should also be noted that I left the tiny green stems ON and cannot fathom the time involved in removing them. Hope you enjoy and I would love to hear from you!