Midsummer in the Ozarks is mulberry season. If you have never eaten mulberries fresh from the tree or made them into pies, jellies or wine, you certainly have missed a unique summer treat. Mulberries are free for the picking, but so delicate they are not sold in grocery stores, though you might find them at a farmers market.
Mulberries ripen over a two-week period, and trees usually produce an abundant crop. The berries are fragile and must be picked gently. Because the trees can grow quite tall, harvesting is difficult. Some folks lay an old sheet on the ground under the tree and give the tree limbs a good shake. However, the fruit bruises easily, and not all the mulberries land on the sheet. I prefer to pick the berries individually, from the bed of my husband’s 1948 Ford pickup truck.
Mulberries are easy to freeze. Wash them carefully in a colander with cold water, drain well and place in plastic bags. Frozen berries can be processed into jelly or wine, or used for a winter pie with the taste of summer inside.
My favorite mulberry recipe is for gooseberry/mulberry pie. The mulberry is very sweet, and the wild gooseberry is very tart, which equals the perfect combination for a wonderful summer fruit pie. I believe it is no accident that these two berries ripen at exactly the same time.
2 ¼ cups mulberries
2 ¼ cups gooseberries
1 cup sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
4 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon sugar
Combine mulberries, gooseberries, 1 cup sugar, cinnamon, cornstarch and salt in a bowl and mix well. Pour the mixture into a pastry-lined 9-inch pie pan, dot with butter and cover with the top crust. Sprinkle the top with 1 teaspoon of sugar. Bake 40 minutes at 400 degrees.
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