It’s mulberry time! While many consider these tenacious trees nothing more than annoying weeds, to me they are an amazing gift from Mother Nature. I often see their and distinctive bright green leaf shapes pushing their way through sidewalk cracks, clinging to a bit of soil in a brick wall, or standing coolly next to blazing hot pavement. Nothing seems to daunt them. We could well take a lesson in persistence and making the best of our circumstances from the mulberry.
Mulberries begin to ripen the end of May here in the Ozarks. This is perfect timing as the ruby berries ripen over a long period of time and tend to distract birds from my strawberries. It is not only the birds that enjoy these wild fruits, I love to sample them myself. I am always amazed at the difference in the berries of these wild trees. There is a tree in the alley hedgerow that has huge, but rather tasteless berries. There is a small tree in the house hedgerow that has tiny, very sweet and flavorful berries. There are several trees on my walk to work that have berries somewhere in between. I’ve learned that they aren’t ready to pick until they turn rich, shiny black and fall easily from the stem. I’ve also learned that one must pick them early in the morning or the birds will get them before you do.
This year I’m planning on taking the time to preserve this bounty for the rest of the year by making some jam and preserves. Another week and I’ll be in mulberry heaven!