I had specific plans about kitchen foraging experimentation that I had wanted to do yesterday, working on a few different versions of gluten free and paleo gnocchi, with foraged ingredients, but you know how it happens- plans change...
I was walking to the grocery store to pick up one ingredient that I still needed for the gnocchi, and I passed by a mulberry tree. This tree is one I've known was there for years, but I never actually got any mulberries from it, other than the occasional one or two, no actual harvest or gorge-fest like we used to have picking mulberries as a kid near the pool where we took swimming lessons.
However, yesterday, I noticed a bunch of ripe mulberries on the tree, but even more overripe mulberries that had fallen off the tree and onto the ground as they were so overripe. The tree was growing on a terrace a few feet above the sidewalk, so this was ground that no one was walking on...
And I thought to myself- why not do something with those mulberries, providing that they weren't buggy, of course.
And so, in a few minutes, I collected an entire bowl full of mulberries, all as fresh and undamaged as if they had just fallen off the tree minutes ago. None were buggy.
You see this bowl? These are white mulberries. Only white mulberries, when they are so overripe start turning purple. A pale purple, but purple nonetheless. These mulberries were so overripe that they were super sweet, which made me think to capitalize on that sweetness and make a syrup out of them.
After soaking them in water and washing them well to remove any residual dust or dirt that may have remained on them, I boiled them up to make a syrup. This syrup, at first, was quite a funny brownish color with a slightly green tinge. Then I added a little bit of lemon juice to it and a "magic trick" happened and, like purple cabbage does when acidic things are added to it, it turned a beautiful magenta color. Fun thing, because no matter how tasty mulberry syrup is when brown with a greenish tinge, that color change made it just that much more tempting to want to use.
I sweetened this with white sugar, because I wanted to see how it would taste on its own, without an overpowering flavor that jaggery or honey would impart, but next time I pass by the tree, if I am able to get more, I will be making this with jaggery.
While I did this with mulberries, you can do this with any foraged fruit or flower or even herb with a pleasant taste.
With the mulberry pulp that remained at the end, I added some more fresh mulberries and sweetener and cooked it down to make mulberry jam, getting two tasty dishes for the price of one.
The simplest way to use this syrup is simply mixed with water or seltzer to make a refreshing cold drink, but it can also be used to make alcoholic cocktails or as a topping for ice cream or drizzled on cakes or pancakes or waffles or panna cotta. Feel free to use your imagination. Anything that would taste good with a fruity accompaniment would taste good with mulberry syrup or any other fruity syrup.
And, of course, you can also make such a syrup with any store bought fruit.
Lucky me, after 5 years of living in our current apartment, I discovered that we also have another white mulberry tree next door to our home, and I've taught my kids how to harvest from there as well, though, being a younger tree, the yield of the bounty isn't nearly the same as the one near my grocery store.
Foraged Wild Mulberry Syrup Recipe, Vegan, Refined Sugar Free Option
1 cup mulberries
3 cups water
6 tablespoons sugar or sweetener of choice, or to taste, or leave out even
2 tablespoons lemon juice, or to taste
1. Put the mulberries and water into a pot and bring to a boil.
2. Simmer on a low heat, covered, until the mulberries are falling apart, and the water is sweetened.
3. Uncover and let the water boil off, until there is approximately 1 cup of liquid remaining.
4. Strain through a cheesecloth, then use the cheesecloth to squeeze out the berries, to extract as much liquid from them as possible. Save the pulp to use for jam, or to put in various baked goods, or even in fruit leather.
5. Taste the liquid. If it is sweet enough, you can skip adding any other sweetener, but then it won't be syrupy, but will just have the texture of juice unless you boil it down tremendously. If it is not sweet enough or you want it thicker, add sweetener of choice to taste- I found 6 tablespoons of white sugar was more than adequate.
6. Add lemon juice.
7. Boil until all the sweetener is dissolved.
8. Chill before using.
Do you have mulberries growing near you? What type? Do you forage it? Is it something you foraged as a kid?
Would you ever harvest fallen fruit, not ones fresh off the tree? Which fruit would you harvest after falling?
Ever make a syrup out of foraged or store bought fruit, flowers, or herbs? What did you use to make it, and what is your favorite way to serve it?
Does this look like a recipe you'd try?
Anyone else also notice the chemical reaction of the color change with mulberries when adding acid, or does that only happen when very overripe white mulberries and not with purple ones or regular white ones?