These are probably my favorite “wild” fruit because they are everywhere!!! In Florida Mulberry trees fruit around tax time and our well-loved tree at home gives us enough berries (with diligent picking) for many jars of canned berries, a freezer full, weeks of smoothies, and 15 gallons of wine.
Now I’m in Illinois for the summer and here they are again! Fruiting all over at the end of June. Here I find them on fence rows, lots of them and some white ones too. It is also the very start of the black raspberries sharing the fence rows at the farm and I see grapes coming along though I may be back home before they are ripe.
We gathered a very modest few quarts of berries Saturday, could have done better climbing up into trees rather than picking off the hay wagon but I was wearing my 1930’s appropriate dress so stayed on the wagon. I decided to make them into jelly since we had so few and I’m sure I’ve made jelly before but can’t really remember so it must have been long ago.
Back in the summer kitchen I got the stove going and let the berries soften over the warm area while I made some scrambled eggs over the hot firebox on the left. We also added some rhubarb, black raspberries, and unripe apples to hopefully give us enough pectin to make a good jell.
In the pot I smashed them up and let them warm awhile to release the juice. Then I strained everything through cheesecloth and got about two cups of juice. We didn’t really have a recipe for mulberries so made our best guess and added 1 1/3 cups sugar, then brought it to a rapid boil while stirring. The stove did beautifully here, I wish I had a picture but I was distracted with stirring and trying to avoid the heat pouring out of the stove (I still love the wood stove but it was hot). After 10 minutes or so it seemed thick enough and I poured it into a sterilized pint jar and capped so it would seal.
We have very hard water from the well, I didn’t realize how hard until I saw all the lime built up from just boiling the jar to sterilize it. Our jelly was a lovely color and I broke my no sugar rule to taste it – pretty good!
I think my next try will include more black raspberries as they get ripe and I’d like to find a recipe using honey.