Very berry nice – By Jenny Morris

Very berry nice – By Jenny Morris

When I was a child we had a really huge mulberry tree in our garden. My sister Beverley and I practically lived in the branches of that tree during the mulberry season, stuffing our mouths with the delicious, fleshy, succulent, sweet, tarty mulberries that weighed the tree down, and as many as we ate and gave away, the tree never seemed to empty.

My garden has four mulberry trees and all are laden with fruit at the moment. The fruit attracts the birds, which are a pleasure to watch, so I don’t mind sharing it with them. I like to make mulberry syrup with the fruit to pour over ice-cream, or stir into iced sparkling water. I open freeze them for later in the year and make delicious mulberry sponge puddings in winter. They are delicious dusted with caster sugar and frozen and then made into smoothies.
I am so sad this year because I won’t be making jars of jam with my mother, as she passed away a few weeks ago. She so looked forward to this season. I’m sad that my sister and I will never eat her jam again, but we will always remember how delicious her jams were. My father for his part used to make mulberry wine, and boy, did it ever have a kick like a mule.

If you have never tried mulberry jelly, you have to try one – it is delicious. I cook the fruit with sugar and a little water, then press it through a sieve and for every cup of juice I add 5ml of gelatine. Once it is set, I serve it with vanilla ice-cream, or thick whipped cream – its heavenly.
I would like to give you a tip on how to clean them. Don’t run water onto them.

They are so delicate that the water pummelling them will bruise them and make them bleed. Run some water into a basin and tip them into the water and let them soak for a few minutes to remove the dust, then gently remove them and lay them to dry on absorbent paper.
Mulberries are rich in the B-complex group of vitamins and vitamin K. They contain wonderful amounts of vitamin B-6, niacin, riboflavin and folic acid. They are good for pregnant mommies who need to enrich their diet with folic acid, and are also an excellent source of iron.

They are also a good source of minerals like potassium, manganese, and magnesium and also contain small amounts of vitamin A, and vitamin E.
When the mulberry tree is so heavy with fruit it can’t stay on the branches, I harvest them from under the tree because they are firm, fabulously juicy and sweet. I give them a good soak to get rid of the dust and then decide how to use them – in tarts, syrup or jams, or under a spongy layer of almonds drenched with honey.

Let’s cook!

Mulberry sponge
Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 100g sugar
  • 2 jumbo eggs
  • 2 tablespoons whiskey
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • ½ cup self-raising flour
  • 100 g ground almonds
  • 500 g cleaned, ripe mulberries
  • Juice of 1 orange stirred into the mulberries
  • Honey, for drizzling
  • 30g butter, for dotting

Method:
Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. Cream the butter and sugar together till pale, light and nice and fluffy. Now beat the eggs in, one at a time. Stir in the whiskey and zest, sift the flour over the surface of the mixture and fold in, then fold in the ground almonds.
Place the mulberries into a greased baking dish with the juice of one orange , and spoon the batter mixture over the berries.
Drizzle with honey, dot with butter and bake in a pre-heated oven at 180°C for about 40 minutes.
Check the centre with a skewer; if it comes out clean and dry remove the sponge from the oven, otherwise let it bake for a few more minutes.
Serve with scoops of vanilla ice cream, or great dollops of mascarpone cheese, or whipped cream, or even thick lovely Greek yoghurt.
Tip: If you can’t get mulberries, you can use blackberries or youngberries.

© Jenny Morris ‘Cooking with Jenny Morris’ 2012-2014