Everyday Forage: Mini Mulberry Pies (GF/V)
Everyday Forage Mulberry Pie
5 Simple Whole Food Ingredients
Ah, spring is here and if feels so good to enjoy the sunshine on my face and watch the perennial seedlings start to come up. While I've been getting excited over the Wild ginger, Ostrich fern fiddle heads, Purple Dead Nettle, Stinging Nettle, and Common Blue Violets, I've also been cleaning out my fridge and went through my last jar of Mulberry Preserves!
If this is your first time making preserves, have no fear- it's quite easy. Simply harvest the abundant mulberry (in Chicago there are the non invasive Red Mulberries and the invasive White Mulberries. Both delicious, although, one is incredibly aggressive to the natural ecosystem- upside being, more mulberries:) In Chicago I've been harvesting mulberries from mid-late June until about August. You can find them along sidewalks (and ahem... along the lakefront bike path near Hyde Park). They're a great sweet treat to have on hot summer days, whether you're biking, hanging out with friends or taking your dog out for a walk, they are delicious!
Which brings me to my confession--I was not the one to find this Mulberry tree...It was Aza! My beloved 14 year old doggie friend. She was keeping me super healthy last summer with our long walks over the weekends and evening strolls. One day I wanted to walk with Aza to El Paseo community garden to harvest from my garden bed. (Aza loves coming because she gets extra tomatoes when we're there:) It's about a 30 min walk, and as we departed on a hot summer day, I consciously told myself that Aza will lead this trip. I let go of "controlling her," and while she was on a leash when we were walking on the sidewalks, I let her direct....We went through this undeveloped area next to the highway, under a bridge and into a shaded oasis full of perennial friends ("weeds"), this mulberry tree, and a Juneberry! Whaaa!!! Aza led me to a food paradise and ALL of the berries were ready to be picked! We never made it to El Paseo that day, but instead filled our bellies with berries (Aza is indeed a vivacious vegetable and fruit lover <3). We came home with doggie bags filled with mulberries and Juneberries, ready to be made into preserves and smoothies.
*It's more fun to harvest with fiends, human or not.
** When harvesting you can try the "Shake Test"- literally take a branch of the tree and shake it until the ripe mulberries fall off-these are the sweetest and ones you'll desire for your preserve.
***Pick out any unripe (white or hard) Mulberries before you place them in your pot or slow cooker.
****After harvesting leave the berries out side for a bit or in the sunroom so the bugs get a chance to escape! There are plenty of them, so be kind and wait and extra few hours before processing. I gently washed the berries, put them in a crock pot (you can also use a pot), let the berries simmer down and added sugar and lemon juice...and that's it! (suggested proportions below)
*****Please keep in mind I like to play and experiment, so if you want to add more sugar, less, a different type, add different fruit or citrus-feel free to do so! The kitchen is your playground, have fun! I want to support you to reconnect with your food, not strictly tell you how to do it (although I will share my successes and failures:)
Mulberry Preserves Recipe:
-6 cups of ripe Mulberries
-1/2 lemon juice
-2 tbsp water
-1 cup of filtered water
-1/2-3/4 cups of cane sugar (sugar of your choice)
Gently rinse the mulberries after harvest + bugs have escaped.
Place the Mulberries in a large pot or crockpot
Add 2 tbsp of water and simmer berries down for about 15min on medium heat
Stir and mash mulberries with the back of a spoon
Add 1/2 cup of lemon juice, 1 cup of filtered water, and sugar in with the mulberries
Stir ingredients and turn the flame down to low heat
Place lid on pot and let simmer for about an hour (Check back frequently and stir)
***If using a crock pot, I simply add all the ingredients, stir, and turn on for 8 hours
From here you can can your mulberries or make Mini Mulberry Pies:)
2 cups of black walnuts
2 cups pitted dates
Can add 1/2 tbsp of Staghorn Sumac Pollen for a slight lemon zing and extra perennial goodness!
Add black walnuts and pitted dates into a food processor and blend until sticking together and smooth.
Line your muffin baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper
Scoop out the mixture one tablespoon at a time and press crust into form until desired crust thickness (I use about 1 1/2 tbs per muffin insert
Scoop preserves into each muffin container.
Make awesome cut out designs to decorate your pies!
Let it set for 30min, or eat as is:)
I like to bake mine for 20 minutes to set ingredients and gel the sweet flavors.
Set oven for 350 degrees F
Bake Mini Muffins for 20-30min for a slight crispiness and overall general goodness!
Enjoy and feel free to play. I'll be making red currant and Staghorn Sumac lemon meringue pies soon, but you can use so many fruits, root veggies, and creams for this pie-it's incredibly versatile!
And keep an eye out for those Mulberries this year!
In the joy and playfulness of baking and creating,