Thursday, June 24, 2010

Mulberry Rhubarb Lemon Jam

For this month's installment of the Tigress Can Jam, the pick of the month, courtesy of the amazingly prolific and expansive Joel and Dana of Well Preserved, was berries. I can't wait for the round-up on this one. Who doesn't love berries? There are so many of them, and because this season has been incredibly early, we are rolling in them right about now. My strawberry patch stopped producing a while ago, and I thankfully caught the very end of the season at a local organic strawberry farm just the other day. I've gone across the Hudson river to pick black, red and pink currants, as my three highly productive bushes got completely cleaned out one day. (I think the culprit was a chipmunk and some birds. My fault I didn't have them netted.) Raspberries are everywhere in the wild, the small black variety and wineberries, a similar wild raspberry. The big red ones are right on their heels. And though elderberries are the size of a poppy seed, their flowers are everywhere and can make a nice syrup or liqueur. So. What do make?

A few years back, there was a small mulberry tree grappling for a space among a thatch of honeysuckle bushes. I cut back all the bushes and let the tree grow. Mulberry trees are the forgotten berry tree, even though they are everywhere and seedling pop up in cement cracks. I think people used to appreciate them more, but now they are considered just a nuisance. When I was a child, we had a large black-berried tree right next to the back door. We would spend a good portion of the summer in it. Mulberry trees are great for climbing, they have low limbs and many of them. My mother once told me a story about how mulberry tree leaves were what silk worms were fed in order to create silk. I promptly began eating the leaves, which are edible, and at the time, quite tasty. One day, my mother decided that she had had enough of the big, black berries staining the doorway, and it was cut down. I was a miserable teenager at the time, so I'm sure I pretended to not care or was outraged and indignant, one of the two---or perhaps both.

This year I was thrilled when the tree promised to have a good yield of berries. We have a white mulberry tree, which pales in comparison to the trees with black berries, both in color and taste. My son, who is almost two, and I would walk past the tree every day to let out the chickens and graze on the berries. They are mild and lack acidity, but they are sweet and free for the taking. They lasted about two weeks, and at the end they really plumped out and took on a pinkish hue. Then, suddenly the birds took over, and they declared the season over. I neglected to take a picture of them while they were hanging in the tree. Early in the morning, it's hard to remember the camera, which isn't so bad a thing really. But I now realize there isn't one good picture of the white mulberries. Can you see them floating around with the rhubarb and lemon down there in the pot?

This jam didn't gel up too much, just like my rhubarb jam from last month, but it's incredibly delicious. I think there was a bit too much sugar in it. The taste is sweet and yet still tart, and the texture is wonderful. Strands of chewy lemon, chunks of rhubarb, and mulberries all retained their shape and became candied.

2 cups of mulberries (don't worry about those little stems, you can eat them!)
1 cup of rhubarb, diced
1 medium lemon, sliced finely
3 cups of sugar

Boil in a heavy pot until gel stage is reached, usually at around 220 degrees if you are using a thermometer. Process in boiling water for ten minutes. Makes three half-pints.

A walk down the block finds many black-berried mulberry trees, and the other day when I was looking out for a particularly good branch I had found earlier, I spied, thankfully, a large black rat snake, hanging out in the branch. Do snakes eat mulberries? Or was it just a really nice hot spot? I didn't linger to ask.


  1. Oh wow, what a beautiful looking jam. I will try and find some mulberries this year to make your jam. There used to be a house down the road who put a 'mulberries for sale' sign up on the road when they were ready. They've stopped doing that now but I think you should always be cheeky enough to knock on the door and ask. They can only say no - then kill ya!

  2. That looks gorgeous. I love the different colours in it. I never seem to see mulberries anymore, you are right they are the forgotten berry tree. Usually an old gnarley tree that people think is a pest- I love the taste of them.
    Made my very first jelly this morning- inspired by all your lovely ones glistening in the sunlight...ooh ooh ooh, move over jam, jelly coming through. (It was apple rose jelly :-)

  3. I grew up picking the dark mulberries. We loved them! I didn't even know about white mulberries. Your jam is the prettiest color. Nice work.

  4. How wonderful that looks! I wanted to fit a mulberry tree in but no room. It was next to last on my list of things. Still incomplete: arbequena olives, mulberries, elderberry. So sad but hey, that's life on 1/5 acre in city right? You must live close to woods it sounds? Did you have fun meeting Tigress?

  5. Gloria - Thank you! And you are right about knocking on doors, what are people going to do? I've been eyeing a small neglected pear tree, and the house is so creepy I don't want to knock. Makes me feel about seven years old!

    cityhippyfarmgirl - Can't wait to hear about your jelly! Your Mandarin Marmalade looks so wonderful. I think you have some interesting mulberries in your neck of the woods and some good jam recipes to go with them!

    Denise - Thanks! It's good you had the black ones--they are indeed much better!

    Annette - I would love to see your garden! Too bad I can't visit one of your open houses. We had a wonderful visit; it's so nice to get the opportunity to meet like-minded folks. We live on three acres of what I think of as suburban rural, you know?

  6. this jam looks amazing! first of all, the colors! i love the toothsome quality of the fruit - so ferberesque!

    where are all these elderflowers you are talking about around our necks of the woods? - are they right in front of my nose and i don't smell them? and mulberries! i don't think i've ever even tasted one - but i think i've sung about them a few times - are they in a nursery rhyme? :)

  7. Tigress - Thanks! It *is* a little Ferber-esque, isn't it? Elderflowers really are everywhere; once you identify them, you will see them everywhere. And you might have sang or danced to "here we go round the mulberry bush, mulberry bush, mulberry bush" though they are trees...

  8. This is possibly the prettiest jam ever! I wonder if it's still possible for me to pick the mulberries from the white mulberry tree that's next to my back window...

  9. I came over from Tigress. I love your blog. So many creative and fun recipes.

  10. I've never even seen a mulberry, wow does this sound fantastic!

  11. I used this as a base today, however, added some red currants as I saw your comment about it not gelling well. I also weighed the fruit as I went along.

    ~8oz mulberries (purple ones)
    ~8oz red currants
    ~4oz rhubarb

    So I used 1lb, 4oz of sugar to it, which would be around 2.5 cups. I also chopped up and added a lemon but didn't count it in the 'fruit to sugar count' as I like my jam a bit on the tart side.

    The currants have more pectin than mulberries and rhubarb so I ended up with a nice conserve with a good spreadable consistency. Quite tasty too, although not as pretty as yours with the white mulberries.

  12. Oh wow Julia! This looks incredible! Love the different colors and textures! I haven't had a mulberry before (that I recall)... but now I want to go climb a tree =)

  13. Kat - I have to agree! Thanks! My mulberries are long gone, but you may still have some. Or some mulberry pie?

    Bonnie - Thanks for taking the time to tell me that! It means so much!!

    Mimi - Thank you! They don't travel well, so you don't see them in market, but if you skip down the road, well... (depending on where you live, of course)

    Anon. (gloria?) - the addition of currants is inspired, as is not counting the lemon for the sugar ratio which I think I should have done, but obviously didn't. And the purple ones are so much juicier--I wonder what it looked like? My white mulberries shriveled and got candied and really added some chew.

    Meg - Thanks! I'll bet you have some mulberries by you somewhere. Isn't climbing trees fun? I can't wait until my guy is old enough to join me!

  14. Oh, I have great memories of harvesting mulberries from a tree in our alleyway growing up. How I wish I had one of those trees now! Think I might go find one. :-)

  15. Hey FARMcurious, thanks for the visit! I'll bet you could find a mulberry tree somewhere near you. Good luck!

  16. Thanks for the recipe! Last night I wondered if it would be crazy to combine rhubarb and mulberries for jam and then I thought, let's see if someone else has already done it and googled it :) I made some rhubarb-mulberry-lemon jam yesterday night and we had the first bit of it for breakfast this morning! It's delicious!

  17. Thanks so much for this. I've never made jam, but am ready to do it. I have a couple of questions.
    1. Do I need to add any pectin?
    2. I want to can this. Is this shelf stable as is or do I need to boil it again in the jars?
    Thanks for the info.