A few years ago I noticed that there were several trees on our property that were dropping berries all over the place. After a little research, I found they were mulberry trees and that the berries are edible. I guess I kinda always knew they were edible, because I remember eating them as a kid. I just never knew what they were called. Last year I picked a bunch, but only ate a few. They're good to eat, but just can't compare to fresh raspberries or blackberries. Their flavor is more subtle. Plus, they're a royal pain to pick.
This year, I'd been noticing out the office window that the mulberries were getting ripe. One of the few benefits of not having curtains, I suppose. I didn't think much of it, though, until after the bad storms a few days ago. I went out into the yard to find that a TON of mulberries had fallen from the tree. Picking them up off the ground is much easier than picking them from the tree (or would have been if my big, pregnant belly wasn't in my way), and I picked up about 4 quarts in an hour.
I had been itching to make jam and had just recently read about a woman making mulberry jam. Using her recipe (4 cups of berry puree/juice, 5 cups of sugar, 1 box of pectin) but halving the sugar and using Ball no-sugar-needed pectin, I made two batches of mulberry jam.
This all started last night, and I was nervous about how it would turn out. Not only had I never made jam before, but I'd never done a thing with mulberries except eat a few off the tree. After I had run the berries through my food mill to remove the stems and seeds, I tasted the puree. It was less than appetizing. For some reason, the resulting puree tastes worse than the fruit it came from. This has held true for me for both the mulberries and strawberries. I don't know why. But I plowed ahead anyways and hoped for the best.
After simmering and adding pectin and sugar, I tasted the mixture again. MUCH better. In fact, it was awesome! It's amazing what cooking and a little sugar can do. After testing the mix on a chilled spoon to make sure it would gel, I poured it into jars and processed them in my canner. One jar was only half full, so I set that one aside to use immediately. My "midnight" snack last night was a peanut butter and mulberry jam toasted sandwich.
I'm not sure how to relate how good it feels to have taken something from my yard and made edible, good-tasting food from it. Since I haven't ever really gardened or anything, this was my first experience truly making food. I'm just amazed, not only that it turned out so well, but that it came from my yard! Gardening and preserving is just so fulfilling. I really don't know why more people don't do it...