Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Sweet and Punchy Mulberry Syrup

It's mulberry season down in North Carolina, and my friend Genna and I have been harvesting off trees on the farm across from her house every few days for the last week or so.  They seem to grow like weeds around here, but I think it is less common to find a large enough tree for a significant harvest that isn't too high off the ground.  This one is huge and sprawling, so it is perfect for easy picking and lots of it.  This of course sent me looking for mulberry recipes, online, in books, even calling my grandma to see if she had any ideas...  but really (as she said) they can be used just like any other berry.  Below is the first of many mulberry recipes to come, but if you don't have a tree nearby, feel free to substitute just about any other berry.  

-Mulberry juice
-Lemon juice

->  Heat however much mulberry juice you have and an equal amount of sugar in a medium saucepan until just simmering.  
Remove from heat, and stir in fresh-squeezed lemon juice to taste.  This is a critical step.  The mulberries are sweet but lack a certain punch, so add plenty of lemon juice!  Skim foam if necessary.  

At this point, you can just keep it in a jar in the fridge or you could can it in sterile jars with lids and rings for 10-15 minutes in a hot water bath.  

I think the uses may be virtually limitless.  So far, I have added it to fruit and yogurt for a great light dessert...

Put a few tablespoons in the bottom or a glass and added prosecco or champagne and a splash of gin...

Added it to my fruit and yogurt smoothies, and made mulberry lemonade out of it by adding water and a generous squeeze of lemon.  The possibilities go on!  I can't wait to try it mixed with ice-cold tonic or mineral water this summer on the porch, or drizzled over ice cream (again, probably this summer on the porch), even on pancakes or in any number of potential cocktails.  I canned my first couple of batches, but I seem to keep opening it before it even makes it onto the pantry shelf!

~*TIP:  To juice my mulberries, I ran them through a food mill (you could also just mash them) and then let them drain in a tea-towel-lined colander.  You could leave it like this overnight to let them juice themselves effortlessly, but this requires patience.  Alternatively, you could squeeze it through the towel with all of your might periodically over the course of a couple hours, requiring more effort, but less patience.  I'll let you decide which method I used.  *~

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