I don’t know if there is anything I love as much as pie. Tender, flaky crust. Sweet fruity filling. Maybe some ice cream on the side…mmmm.
Pie was like the best dessert when I was growing up. Grandma always made pie for holidays…still does, and always will. :)
But I don’t make it very often for myself. Why? Well for one thing, it’s a pain in the butt. (The whole keeping the dough chilled, cutting in the butter, rolling it out…and I have hardly any workspace for that kind of thing.) And also, I refuse to get those canned fruit things from the grocery store. See, I was raised on home-grown, processed and prepared pies. I can’t stand a commercially-made or (god help me) frozen grocery-store pie. Blech. (I did at one time consider buying the Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crust. Then I read the ingredients. And as Grumpy Cat would say, “No.”)
Yes, I’m a pie elitist.
So, these days I don’t have a garden, or fruit trees, and I live in town. I suppose I could go driving around the local country roads to try to find wild blackberries or plums, but ain’t nobody got time for that. But there is one fruit around right now that nobody seems to want…probably because they have no idea how awesome it is.
And they’re everywhere around here. Usually not in a focal part of a landscape, but still everywhere. Fencerows, alleyways, parks, golf courses… I have one tree growing through the fence between me and my neighbor’s yard, but the branches are too high to reach. So I checked a couple parks. Hit the jackpot just across the street at the local arboretum/cross country course. Found a couple dozen trees, most bearing tasty fruit.
*Mulberries will often mutate in the wild, so taste the fruit on each tree to see if it’s worth harvesting. Sometimes they’re different colors. I found one tree with light purple fruit that was extra mild and sweet, but I also found a tree with pretty, dark fruit that was sour…edible, but not worth the trouble.
There are a couple objections I’ve heard to mulberries that could explain some of why they aren’t popular.
- Seeds are annoying. But I didn’t really notice them. I guess it varies from tree to tree.
- Stems are weird. Yeah, those little green stems made me think twice, but they’re soft, and softened more when they were cooked. Didn’t even notice them.
- They don’t last. Yeah, after picking you only have a day or two to do something with them. They don’t have much of a shelf (or refrigerator) life.
- No one values free stuff. True dat.
However, they are super nutritious and have a nice, mild fruit flavor.
Now, on to the pie!
Start with your favorite pie crust recipe.
The filling: 3 cups mulberries, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 cup flour. Toss to coat the mulberries. Taste to make sure you used enough sugar.
Assemble the pie. Bake 350° for 1 hour. Eat. Repeat. ;)
Mulberry picking methods:
You’ll need a basket, your fingers, and patience. The first time I went out to pick mulberries I hand-picked every single one. It took forever to get enough for a pie. (And I had a second pair of hands who
condescended I bribed to help me with the task.)
Get a tarp/sheet/or whatever and lay it under a branch. Shake the bejesus out of the branch. Glory in the rain of mulberries that shower down upon you. Or stand out of the way. The juice will stain.
This option took half the time to gather twice the mulberries, and I did it alone. However, be prepared to bring home more than mulberries. I ended up with a bunch of bugs, sticks and leaves, so I had to spend more time picking through and washing them. Kind of a trade-off, but it worked for me.
So, yeah, this was totally fun. I don’t know if I’m going to turn into one of those crazy urban foragers, or if this kind of thing will be restricted to mulberries. Although, while I was traipsing around the arboretum I did see several elderberry bushes… Elderberry wine, anyone?
*If you aren’t familiar with wild food DO NOT EAT IT. Get yourself an ID guide to wild plants or look it up elsewhere on the Internet. Again, if you do not know what it is, do not put it in your mouth. (And that warning could probably apply to anything you read on a nutrition label, too.) This post is for inspiration and entertainment only. I assume no responsibility whatsoever for any adverse effects encountered by the individual. Please harvest wild edibles at your own risk!