My mother came for an impromptu visit last weekend - it was a wonderful time spent with her - a great combination of cooking together, eating well, relaxing, and most importantly catching up. I have a truly wonderful mother, and I feel quite blessed.
One of our happy discoveries was finding a massive mulberry tree, simply bursting with ripe fruit. Within minutes, our hands were stained dark purple, and our bowls were quickly filling with berries.
There's something great about harvesting your own fruit - I realize this revelation is nothing new or unique, in fact, our nation seems to be buzzing with the push towards local, home grown food. Yet I, like so many others, enjoyed the process. (For me, I know this romance comes from reading Little House on the Prairie as a young girl. I'm sure it would quickly pass if I had to harvest my food on a daily basis!)
The berries were perfectly ripe - a smooth, full sweetness. If you've not had a mulberry - they are delicious. One might compare them to a blackberry, yet they are much sweeter and don't have the same tangy quality. They are firmer than blackberries in texture. Very tasty.
I decided to make a mulberry pie (pies and tarts are my most favorite desserts). The most troublesome part, however, is what to do with those stubborn stems. They are tightly connected to the mulberry, and require snipping them off individually with scissors, as my attempt to pull them by hand resulted in a prompt squashing of the berry. After some research as to whether or not to leave the stems on or snip them off, opinions seemed to be equally divided. I felt my time could be spent on more enjoyable tasks, so I took the lazy route and decided to bake with abandon and leave the stems on.
The pie was delicious - a rich, berry flavor just perfectly sweetened - my crust crisp and flaky. Yet the stems were unfortunately a bit noticable, in texture and appearance. They made a beautiful pie a bit too wild and rustic. Thus, I think my vote is to take the time to snip them off, especially if you were serving the pie to guests.