I have a sneaking suspicion most people in Iowa don’t actually harvest Mulberries. Mulberries are an unassuming little fruit, that grow like weeds on trees, and have a very light sugary flavor once the tree is developed. Younger mulberry trees produce tart fruit, that have a little kick to them.
But crazy Jenna over here is the kind of person who would harvest a weed berry. Because it means having a cheap, local fruit available to eat year round. (Winter fruit in the Midwest is somewhat lacking…)
I have picked and collected Mulberries before, but this year is a banner year. Every other year, the trees really kick up the quality of fruit they produce. Some years, a tree doesn’t produce much of any fruit. Not the case for 2017.
The harvest is easy enough. The berries ripen at different times depending on how much sun they receive. So once the fruit begins to turn a dark blue/purple/black, you just pick them. Try to leave the white and pink berries on the tree so they can ripen. Mulberrries do not ripen once they are picked.
They have an incredibly short shelf life as well. Basically after two or three days, even in the fridge, the sugars decompose so much that the little sections of the berries shrivel.
This year, I am picking about two-four cups a day. I spread and sort out the berries as soon as they are picked. Doing the best I can, I removed twigs, unripe berries and bugs. (But let’s face it, if you eat organic produce you probably eat some bugs….I hope you all were already aware of this. Some of the bugs are teeny tiny! You can’t even see them!)
Then I spread the berries on a sheet pan in an even layer to freeze. This keeps the berries from sticking together. Once they are frozen, I transfer them to a frozen container. And then start the whole process over the next day.
Just doing a little bit at a time makes it super easy and efficient.
What do I do with mulberries? Well, when I’m picking I honestly just eat a lot of them straight off the tree. But the frozen Mulberries I put in pancakes, muffins and most importantly, my morning oatmeal. (You can also make jam with them and pies, but I’m not much into jams).
And, as a side note, they also turn your dog purple.