Saturday morning, bright and sunny, we went to Inwood and the boys wanted a few bucks for treats. “I’ll give you a few bucks if you pick some mulberries.”They groaned a little. But only a little. Then they started to pick.
“We can go to our good tree,” Z said to B. Then to me, “I’ll show you.” He led me down the path that runs parallel to the Isham into a grove of fruiting mulberries.
I am still amazed that these prolific trees grow all over NYC and for the most part, the only beings who indulge in their sweet-sweet fruit are the pigeons. Now that I know they exist, the birds have competition. From me and my bucket. But from Z and his insatiable appetite. We picked together for a while, Z eating more than he dropped in our recycled yogurt container bucket. Then I left them to continue while I shopped on the street.
You have to remember, we live in the middle of NYC. When I was their age I had a secret imaginary world of fairies who lived in a patch of violets in the back of my parents. backyard. Sometimes I worry that they are not having that experience of the world being filled with hidden secret places. But clearly they are.
That’s another thing I love about going to the farmers market in Inwood on a Saturday morning. They can actually go off by their own — run and play on the hill and the thicket behind Isham Street.
The way they reacted to my request to berry-pick said a lot about where we have come as a family. Mulberry picking, even though we only started last year, is now a tradition. And like any 11 and 9-year-old boy, they are experts.
“This is the best tree,” one chided.
“No, look you have to pick it this way,” the other reprimanded with great authority. I sent them off with two yogurt containers and they came back with one ¾ of the way filled. Then I sent them back to fill it – John and I helped
“What will we do with the berries this year?” Z asked.
“We could make a pie like last time,” B said.
“Maybe we’ll try jam,” I suggest.
My mother used to make microwave jam. I am sure a microwave strips food of nutrients, but in case you haven’t noticed, I’m pretty tired these days. I perused some other recipes that called for boiling and pectin and I just wasn’t up for it. This recipe is basically how I remember my mother doing it.
And the mulberry jam – it’s to die for. Although I tried to send them out again today with the babysitter to pick more berries and I couldn’t get them out to the woods without me. I guess it’s a lucky day for the pigeons.
Microwave Mulberry Jam
2 cups of crushed mulberries
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. butter.
Remove the stems from the mulberries. Crush in an 8 cup glass measure with a spout. Let stand until juices forms – about thirty minutes.
Cover with a piece of wax paper. Then microwave on high for 10-14 minutes, stirring every 2-3 minutes. Spoon out 1 tbsp. of jam, refrigerate for 15 minutes and test consistency. If the jam is too runny, re-heat it in microwave for intervals of 2 more minutes until it has the consistency you’re looking for.
Makes a jam jar full.