Mulberry Cobbler (with a side of Childhood)

In case you haven't heard, summer is my favorite time of year. It's been that way since childhood - probably because I had a pretty great childhood.

 Young Ann, feeding baby Oreo, the rescued kitten

Young Ann, feeding baby Oreo, the rescued kitten

Once school got out for the summer, I was free to be a farm kid. My best friend, Annette, luckily lived across the road from me and she and I practically lived at each others' houses.

We spent the summer swimming in the stock tank (that's the farm kid version of a swimming pool), rescuing baby bunnies and kittens, rearranging the bales in the hayloft to make forts and mazes.

My brother and I played in the wheat trucks during harvest and my parents taught us to work by picking and selling sweet corn. I helped my mom make lunches and helped Annette's mom make homemade ice cream sandwiches.

One of my sweetest childhood memories is picking mulberries off the tree in Annette's backyard. We were constantly barefoot (like any good farm kid), so it was easy to tell where we'd been - we'd show back up to the house with mulberry-purple-stained hands, mouths, and feet.

 Small, stained hands

Small, stained hands

Mulberries are a regional delicacy, found all over the Midwest. They resemble blackberries, but are only about one-third of the size and are much more fragile. There are several varieties that I've encountered; I have no idea what the scientific name is for different species, but I can tell them apart because some are white and some are dark purple.

 Fresh mulberries

Fresh mulberries

You'll never find mulberries in a store; they haven't been bred to be hearty like blackberries and smush easily. When you pick them from the tree you inevitably crush a few and spread their delicious purple juice all over everywhere.

This nostalgia for childhood and love of picking free, local fruit led me to do crazy things as an adult. When I lived in Kansas City my friend, Jordan, and I honed the fine skill of mulberrying.

Mulberrying: verb. to gather mulberries by placing a tarp under a tree and shaking said tree’s branches until all ripe berries (and bugs and sticks) fall into the tarp

Jordan and I would grab a tarp, take the special mulberrying hook (basically a metal hook duct-taped to a broken rake handle), spread the tarp under a tree brimming with fresh, juicy berries, and use the hook to reach the tall branches to shake the tree. Mulberries - and bugs and sticks - would rain onto the tarp and I would practically squeal with glee.

 Patrick and mom manning the mulberrying tarp

Patrick and mom manning the mulberrying tarp

Next we would proceed to sort the berries from the live critters and dirt to bring home. I'd dump the berries in a sink of cold water and rinse and sort, then drain the sink, fill it back up, and clean them again. As it turns out, mulberrying is a tedious process in which hours of labor yields only cups of fruit. I can see why the grocery stores aren't mass-marketing these delicacies.

But from our spoils Jordan and I would make mulberry pudding, mulberry pancakes, mulberry syrup (to top ice cream or pancakes), mulberry crisp, or - my favorite - Mulberry Cobbler.

 Sorting the berries from the critters

Sorting the berries from the critters

So if you know of a mulberry tree in your neighborhood, go get your mulberrying tarp (or an old sheet you'll never use again) and find a mulberrying hook (or a tall friend with a ladder). Collect at least five cups of berries (I assume some will be eaten en route to your kitchen). Wash them well with cold water, then wash them again for good measure.

Spray a 2.5-quart baking dish with cooking spray and spread mulberries evenly in the pan.

In a separate bowl, combine one cup of flour, two-thirds cups of sugar, two teaspoons of baking powder, and a half teaspoon of salt. Stir dry ingredients together, then mix in one cup of milk and a teaspoon of vanilla.

 Freshly baked Mulberry Cobbler

Freshly baked Mulberry Cobbler

Pour batter evenly over mulberries. Cover pan with aluminum foil and bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 15-30 minutes until golden brown and cakey top springs back when touched.

Serve hot with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Enjoy!

Mulberry Cobbler with a Side of Childhood from Peas and Hoppiness - www.peasandhoppiness.com

Mulberry Cobbler (with a side of Childhood)

Ingredients

  • 5 c. mulberries

  • 1 c. all-purpose flour

  • 2/3 c. sugar

  • 2 tsp. baking powder

  • 1/2 tsp. salt 

  • 1 c. skim milk

  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Instructions

  1. Wash mulberries well with cold water, then wash them again for good measure.

  2. Spray a 2.5-quart baking dish with cooking spray and spread mulberries evenly in the pan.

  3. In a separate bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Stir dry ingredients together, then mix in milk and vanilla.

  4. Pour batter evenly over mulberries in the baking pan.

  5. Cover pan with aluminum foil and bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 15-30 minutes until golden brown and cakey top springs back when touched.

Serves 10 - Serving Size 1/2 cup - Nutrients per serving:  131 calories -- 0g total fat -- 0g saturated fat -- 0g trans fat -- 0mg cholesterol -- 38mg sodium -- 30g total carbohydrates -- 2g fiber -- 20g sugar -- 3g protein

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