You never see mulberries in the store, or even at farmers markets. They’re just way too fragile to transport and too perishable to last more than a few hours off the tree. But one place I did see mulberries – a lots of them – was a city park near my house. The other day, we ate a few off the drooping branches of the tree, and got hooked. I think I spoiled my apetite for dinner.

Mulberries are often mistaken for blackberries.

So with that source in mind, and most of the berries going to waste, just falling on the ground, I thought I’d resuce a few pints and make some jam. This morning, I headed to the park, and picked about two pounds of berries. The ripe ones just fall off the tree. Some people just spread a sheet under the tree and shake the branches. Because my operation was a bit more covert, I elected to pick them one by one. After about a half hour, I had two pounds of berries.

Mulberries are really interesting – lots of people mistake them for blackberries – they look almost identical, but aren’t related botanically at all. Mulberries also lack the acidity of blackberries (and the trees lack thorns -a bonus for me!) They do have the similar charachteristic of staining your hands bright purple. But mulberries have a trick up their sleeve. If you rub the leaves on your stained hands, they clean up right away! Mulberries have a pretty light flavor – just slightly sweet. Making them into jam really concentrates that flavor into a rich, perfumed sweetness.

Mulberry jam cooling on the counter.

The cooking process was pretty much the same as the rhubarb process I used a few weeks ago. The only difference was that I added the juice of two lemons, and used liquid pectin rather that powdered (just because that’s all we had on hand.) I had two pounds of fruit, and I added two pounds of sugar.  I simmered the berries and sugar for quite a bit longer, too, as the jam took longer to set up, but now it’s nice and firm and spreadable. Two pounds of mulberries yielded eight cups of jam. I really need to invest in some inexpensive canning tongs and funnels. I burned my hand pretty bad filling one of the jars, and lost a bit of the jam to spillage/rising sticky, scalding jam off my hand. But it is delicious!

Because I did get the berries out of the park, I’d like to donate some jars to a local foodbank. Does anyone know of a Central Ohio foodbank that accepts home-preserved food?

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