Cooking from Abundance: The Mulberry Crumble
To me, Mulberry trees seem to have their own gravitational pull. With robust berries hanging heavy on their branches, and robins orbiting like comets. If you've ever visited the Intervale center you may have felt the draw of such a tree, and if you're a plant ID wiz you can spot the potential from a mile away. Personally, I was not, until I attended a foraging walk led by my boss Duncan (which I would highly recommend, very informative).
There are a variety of mulberry trees, but the most widely known are Red, Black, and White (the White Mulberry is the only one considered invasive in the US). All three have edible berries. Mulberries are enjoyed by birds and humans alike from late spring to early summer. Despite the dirty looks that the birds might throw your way, there is an abundance of berries that will go to waste if unharvested. Their berries don’t all ripen at the same time so they can be harvested for several weeks. It’s best to harvest the berries when they are completely dark purple as that’s when they’re sweetest.
Identifying a Mulberry is usually fairly simple, especially when its berries are ripe. They are medium-sized trees with alternating leaves that can be of different shapes even on the same tree. I identified our local tree as a Red Mulberry, which have heart-shaped, often unlobed, and toothed leaves with rough uppersides and slightly hairy undersides. Its bark is also an orange-brown color.
I decided to harvest the berries from our local tree and share the harvest with the folks at Fair Share. This was our first recipe of the season, and while some people preferred to grab their groceries and go many stayed to chat and grab some crumble.
-5 cups of mulberries
-¼ a cup granulated sugar
-pinch of salt
-juice of one lemon (optional but recommended)
-¼ a cup of butter
-½ a cup brown sugar
-¼ a cup flour
-¾ a cup oats
-¼ a teaspoon each cinnamon and nutmeg (optional)
Preheat oven to 375
In either an 8x8 or 7x11 cooking dish combine filling ingredients
In a separate dish combine the topping ingredients until crumbled, sprinkle over the filling
Cook for 35 to 40 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the fruit is bubbly