Wednesday, June 23, 2010

the next wave

I went for a quick walk before lunch today, and chose to walk in a direction I usually don't go. Lucky me, I found a berry bush on the corner a few blocks away. And the black raspberries are ripening! I don't think they're as delicious as the mulberries, because sometimes they taste like ham or aren't very sweet. Perhaps out in the countryside and not by a busy road they'd taste better. Someday I will find secret stands of berries in the forest and visit them at the right times each year to reap the harvest. I did a lot with mulberries this year - I may try my hand at jelly next year. The black raspberries aren't plentiful here, so I probably won't cook with them, but they're a great trail snack for my suburban walks. Doesn't hurt that baby Flash loves them too!

Monday, June 21, 2010

here we go a-berrying

Well, it's that time of year again. The streets are bruised with mulberry juice. I've been visiting one tree in my neighborhood frequently with plastic containers, old sneakers, and rubber gloves. Those berries stain like mad and I learned my lesson after the first day of picking. Out of the last 12 days, I have picked half a gallon or more of mulberries on eight of those days. It's been wonderful eating them right off the tree. I take my nine-month-old son with me and he sits in the stroller watching me pick mulberries, waiting for me to put a big purple berry in his little red mouth. He smushes it with his gums and smiles really wide. I hope he will enjoy the berry hunt as much as I do someday.

With the mulberries I have done quite a bit. The first day I made a dessert sauce for an ice cream topping (we recently started making our own frozen desserts - yum!) Later, I made mulberry muffins, peanut butter and mulberry milkshakes, dehydrated mulberries for snacking, mulberry fruit-on-the-bottom (well, fruit-on-the-top because they float) yogurt, mulberry granola, and mulberry frozen yogurt. We are almost mulberried out. I was able to freeze a whole gallon bag of them for use later in the year as well.

As mulberry season fades, the black raspberries in our neighborhood are beginning to ripen. I learned my lesson last year, when I thought there was a chance they might be red raspberries. Wait til they're black!

I got a book from Amazon called The New England Berry Book. It's a great little book with descriptions, anecdotes, photographs, hunting tips, and recipes for 8-10 kinds of berries in this region. Unlike with field guides on birds, I prefer photos to illustrations for wild edibles. I want to reap nature's bounty but I have to be sure of something before I eat it! I'd like to learn more about the berries I see in my neighborhood and where I can go to find others. If you know a great book or resource, please share it!