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Thursday, 06 July 2017 12:29

Mulberries: Now’s the time to enjoy them

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Mulberries are great to eat, as any bird knows. Be warned, though: The fruit will stain your hands and clothes. Mulberries are great to eat, as any bird knows. Be warned, though: The fruit will stain your hands and clothes. IceAgeTrail.org

There are three types of mulberry: black (Morus nigra), red (Morus rubra) and white (Morus alba). The black mulberry tree originally is from Persia, which is found within the area of modern-day Iran. The red mulberry is native to North America.

I have the black mulberry.

The white mulberry is a native of China and is an important food for the silk worm. The silk industry still needs the leaves to feed its tiny workers.

The bark, berries and leaves of the various mulberry varieties have been used for centuries as medicinals. The black mulberry berries are a laxative, tonic for the blood and an anti-inflammatory. They also are an antioxidant and contain copious amounts of vitamins A, B and C.

Mulberry leaves are an antibacterial. A tree from the leaves can be used to induce sweating and end a fever, while encouraging the expulsion of congestion in the lungs.

Native Americans used the red mulberry as an anthelmintic, a natural wormer particularly effective on tape worms.

No matter the variety, the mulberry fruit is highly perishable, which is why you don’t find it on store shelves. It shows up at farmers markets once in awhile. The fruit doesn’t travel well, but mulberry jelly does,  and that’s what I like to make with my mulberries.

The jelly is one-fourth of my sweet and sour sauce, so I?often use it in Chinese dishes, a nod to the mulberry’s origins.

 

Mulberry jelly

— Powdered and liquid gelatin are handled differently; do not substitute one for the other.

Makes 6 half-pint jars

3 cups mulberry juice from 2 to 3 quarts fresh mulberries

1 box (1.75 oz.) powdered pectin

5 cups sugar

Wash and rinse jars and keep warm until ready to fill. Prepare lids according to manufacturer’s directions.

Sort and wash berries, crush berries thoroughly and heat slowly until juice starts to flow.

Cover and simmer 10 minutes. Strain through fine mesh strainer or cheese cloth.

Measure juice, adding up to 1/2 cup lemon juice to make up the 3 cups of juice needed. Mix with powdered pectin in saucepan. Bring quickly to a hard boil, stirring constantly. Add sugar all at once.

Bring to a full rolling boil (a boil that cannot be stirred down); boil hard one minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and skim off foam with a metal spoon. Pour at once into clean, hot jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.

Wipe rims of jars with a dampened clean paper towel and adjust two-piece metal canning lids. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

 

Sweet and sour chicken

Tempura batter:

3/4 cup cornstarch

1/4 cup flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1 egg, beaten

1/2 cup ice cold water

Canola or peanut oil for frying

Chicken:

2 boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 Tbsp. canola oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 green pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 onion, cut into 1-inch pieces

20 oz. can pineapple chunks, drained (reserve juice)

Sweet and sour sauce:

1/3 cup mulberry jelly

1/3 cup soy sauce

1/3 cup barbecue sauce

2 Tbsps. cornstarch dissolved in reserved pineapple juice

Mix tempura ingredients in a bowl.

Heat 2 to 3 inches of frying oil to 360 F in a large pot.

Coat chicken pieces in the batter and fry in small batches till golden. Drain on a rack or paper towel.

Meanwhile, in large frypan, heat a tablespoon of oil. Add garlic, pepper and onion and saute till tender. Add pineapple and continue to cook to get some color on the pineapple.

In bowl, mix sweet and sour sauce. Add to vegetables and cook until  thickened. Stir in chicken and continue to cook over medium heat until chicken is hot and cooked all the way through (test a piece by cutting it in half).

Serve over cooked rice.

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