In the back left corner of our yard every year we have a dilemna.
The dilemna involves dark red, almost plum-colored berries dropping over the fence from a large tree that is literally chock FULL of birds.
The birds love the trees because of the berries but what we don’t love is the mess of a thousand berries every year for our snow-white dogs and us to step on and smoosh and bring into the house.
The tree is a mulberry tree.
I don’t recall knowing what a mulberry tree was when I live in the north. I first encountered one at a friend’s ranch when their teenage kids rode horses out to the tree, spread out a large and faded old bed sheet underneath it, then climbed up onto the branches and shook them. The berries came pouring out of the tree onto the sheet and then we gathered the corners up, rode back to the house and rinsed them off to bake in a pie.
When I’ve mentioned mulberries to my friends, some seem to have a memory of their grandma baking them into pies or cobblers, but many have never tried one.
Mulberries greatest fame seems to come from the old nursery rhyme “Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush”, although I don’t know why it mentions a bush instead of a tree. And there was that crazy monkey that chased the weasel….and even Vincent Van Gogh must have loved mulberries as he featured them in his paintings, even naming one after the tree. although personally, I think this looks more like it should be called The Autumn Tree.
Perhaps the most important thing about mulberries to know is that they are outperforming other berries in phytoactive ingredients including much higher levels of antioxidants than blueberries and even cranberries. Long story short, these berries will help you resist disease.
After I read about the messy berries laying in our backyard, we decided that the best solution was to gather them up and eat them. I mean, why leave hundreds of perfectly edible berries that are going to make me Superwoman in the grass?
Here is an old recipe for upside down cake that I tossed my first gathered cup or of mulberries into. You could totally make this with blackberries or raspberries as well!
- 6 T. butter
- 2 eggs
- 1 c. sugar
- 3⁄4 c. milk
- 1 3⁄4 c. flour
- 2 t. baking powder
- 1⁄2 t. salt
- FOR THE TOPPING (or bottom of skillet)
- 4 T. butter
- ¾ c. brown sugar
- 1 c. fresh mulberries or blackberries
- Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about a minute.
- Add eggs and beat about 20 seconds.
- Add milk and beat another 30 seconds or so until well-mixed.
- Whisk dry ingredients together and add half to wet batter and mix just until well blended
- Add remaining dry ingredients and mix
- Melt the remaining remaining butter and brown sugar in cast iron skillet on low heat.
- Stir together and try to spread evenly over entire bottom of skillet
- When sugar and butter are melted, sprinkle in mulberries, blackberries or raspberries
- Pour batter mixture on top so that all fruit is covered.
- Bake in center of oven at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes until center of cake tests done.
- Remove skillet from oven, run knife around outside and immediately invert the skillet onto platter.
- Serve with vanilla bean ice cream or fresh whipped cream