All Around the Parkberry Bush: Fresh Mulberry Cobbler

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Back in 2010, I wrote a post singing the praises of mulberries (abundant in the Mid-Atlantic this time of year), after discovering a perfect foraging spot in a nearby park. In the post, I included a recipe for mulberry pie, which is just one of many great ways to use these berries.

Since then, mulberry picking has become an annual tradition for us, and besides pies, I have made sauces and syrups. This year, I thought I would try some quick and easy, and decided on a simple cobbler.

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The berries were in various stages of ripeness, so we picked about 3 cups of deep red/purple mulberries, and may go back for another batch in a couple of weeks. We avoided the white unripe ones. Wildman Steve Brill warns that unripe berries, uncooked young leaves, and mature leaves are toxic and mildly hallucinogenic and cause terrible headaches and upset stomachs.

When foraging, it is also important to make sure that anything you eat hasn’t been sprayed with toxic chemicals. The park where we harvested these berries is in a pesticide-free buffer zone since it is within a 2-mile radius around a school.

IMG_9346To make the cobbler, I adapted Southern Forager‘s Totally Awesome Mulberry Cobbler recipe by using dairy substitutes, but you can use regular milk and butter instead of the almond milk and Earth Balance. I also added some vanilla extract and fresh lemon to give it some zest. Mulberries are tasty, but lack acidity, so the lemon adds a nice balance to the sweetness of the berries.

Ingredients:
1/3 cup Earth Balance vegetable spread
1 ½ cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup organic cane sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 cup almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tsp baking powder
2 cups of mulberries (you can leave the stems on, as they will soften during cooking)
Juice and grated rind of 1/2 lemon
Directions:

Preheat your oven to 325°F. Put the Earth Balance in an 8″x8″ baking pan and place in the oven until the spread is melted. In a separate bowl combine the dry ingredients. Mix in almond milk, maple syrup and vanilla until smooth. Toss the berries with the lemon juice and grated peel, and spread over bottom of baking pan. Pour the batter into the baking pan over the berries. Bake 40-45 minutes or until golden brown. Enjoy!

IMG_9348Wildman Steve Brill offers a vegan mulberry crumble recipe, which calls for mint. I found this recipe after I had made my cobbler, but will keep it in mind for the next batch of mulberries we harvest.

 

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Parkberry pie: Making use of the season’s mulberry abundance

Last month I wrote a blog post on the wonders of Yard Salad, that is, salad made exclusively from ingredients found in my yard. In the same vein, today’s post features another seasonal, wild harvested ingredient – the mulberry.

The berries of the Red Mulberry look a lot like blackberries. We have a White Mulberry in our yard, which has the same type of fruit, only pure white. For some great photographs and interesting information on the mulberry, The Natural Capital blog has a wonderful post.

Our local park has several Red Mulberry trees, which are considered a weed. But I had read in Euell Gibbons Stalking the Wild Asparagus that mulberries are an excellent and underappreciated fruit, and I wanted to give them a try. So my husband and I went foraging in our local park/nature trail and found several trees that were full of the deep purple fruit.

The ripe berries easily fall off of the tree. Sometimes too easily — we lost many dozens to the stream that ran next to the trees. I was also grateful that I had worn a purple dress, since the ripe berries are very juicy and will stain your skin and clothes.

We easily gathered a quart of berries, enough to make a pie. I found several mulberry pie recipes online, and came up with a combination of ingredients that I thought would result in the best flavor and texture. The lemon juice was definitely a good call, since mulberries are sweet in the way that figs are, without any real tartness. The lemon juice balances out the flavors nicely. Anyway, here is my recipe:

  • 3 cups of fresh mulberries (thoroughly washed)*
  • 1 cup of evaporated cane juice
  • ¼ cup flour
  • Juice of 1 lemon (strained)
  • Double-crust pie shell**

Preheat your oven to 400°F. Combine the first four ingredients in a bowl. Mix well. Pour mulberry mixture into an unbaked pie shell bottom. Top with the other shell and poke holes to allow the contents to vent. Bake the pie at 400°F for 15 minutes. Lower the temperature to 350°F and bake for another 30 minutes until the crust is lightly brown on the edges. Allow the pie to cool before serving.

Although I have not made many pies in my life, this was a fairly easy process. And while my pie was not worthy of a cooking magazine cover shot, it tasted great and was a huge hit with my family.

*I did a Google search to see if I needed to remove the stems, and came across a recent blog post on The Southern Urban Homestead that showed that others have been on the same quest! I was happy to learn that I didn’t need to remove the stems, since that would have been hugely time consuming and would have resulted in many squashed berries. The stems didn’t exactly dissolve, but they became tender and unobtrusive to the texture of the pie.

**I found an easy pie crust recipe, which I made. But I ended up using a frozen premade whole wheat shell when I realized that I needed to chill the dough I had made for at least 4 hours.

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