A close friend of mine runs a day care in Oklahoma City and she is so good with these kids that I always think that these must be the luckiest babies in the world to get her unconditional love and life lessons on a daily basis. She makes up little projects for these kids – last week she helped them paint T-shirts for their moms for Mother’s Day and the week before she taught them how to knead dough and make the Indian flat bread! So these totally American mid-western babies graduate from her day-care loving spicy daal-chawal and knowing how to make rotis! A couple of weeks ago she uploaded pictures on her facebook wall of her adorable day-care toddlers picking mulberries from a tree in her backyard. The kids then helped her bake a mulberry pie and then they all got to “share” the pie at snack time. The pictures of the kids with mulberry stains all over their faces and hands reminded me that when she and I were little kids we used to climb up on mulberry trees to try to get to the ripe berries on the very top branches of the trees. I was quite a tree climbing monkey back then and the pictures of her toddlers brought back such pleasant memories that I decided to try to recapture at least some of the charm of those days by going out to pick some mulberries this summer. So this afternoon I scoured our neighborhood with another friend and after an hour or so of cruising the streets we found a couple of trees that were loaded with ripe berries and we picked those that were within our reach without having to undertake the perilous adventure of climbing up these trees – although that spectacle would have been quite the scandal of the neighborhood (in which each of us has lived for over 15 years)! I came home quite pleased with my “harvest” and instantly set about the task of making a jam out of it. I must have eaten half the jam during the process of cooking it because I absolutely love the taste of these mulberries and how they capture my whole childhood in each lick! In the US this fruit is considered to be too lowly for human consumption, but I love it and I wish more people would realize what they are missing out on.
1. 2 lbs of mulberries
2. ½ lb of strawberries
3. 2 and a ½ cups of sugar
4. 2 tablespoons of Grand Marnier
1. Remove any stems or leaves attached to the berries and then place them in a colander and wash the berries under a steady stream of cold water.
2. Let the water drain out of the berries entirely.
3. Put the berries in large heavy-bottomed pot and start cooking them on low heat.
4. The mulberries have a lot of water in them and so they need quite some time to cook and let their juices evaporate. Continue to stir the berries after every 5-6 minutes.
5. After about 30-35 minutes of cooking them, add the sugar to the pot (one cup at a time) and continue cooking for another 25-30 minutes on low heat. Continue to stir the pot regularly in order to avoid burning the sugar at the bottom of the pot.
6. When the berries get cooked and soft (most of the juice has evaporated), using a hand held blender, grind the berries in the pot to a rough pulpy consistency. Do not grind them too much – just enough to get their pectin going and to give the mixture a jam-like consistency.
7. Pour the Grand Marnier into the pot and mix the berries thoroughly and cook for another 6-8 minutes on low heat. Cooking time may vary depending on how much water content is there in the berries. Stop cooking the jam when you see the berries are mushed, are in a jam like shape and all the moisture has been evaporated. Let the jam cool down and then you can either place it in tight glass jars or in Tupperware in the refrigerator. I love this jam on a hot buttered toast or on a bagel with cream cheese!