Grape Jelly Meatballs Happy New Year! Still don’t have a clue what to bring to that New Year’s Eve party tonight? Or maybe your staying home and just want to make something to nibble on while your watching the ball drop in Times Square? Grape …
Homemade Concord Grape Jelly Concord grapes are grown mainly on the East Coast, but they can and do grow in other cool climates. The Concord grape is a beautiful, blue-black grape that often appears to have been dusted with powdered silver. This mild-flavored grape has …
Mulberry Jelly and an Honor Flight
Old Glory Honor Flight
Grandpa is a WW II Veteran and recently took part in the Old Glory Honor Flight. Old Glory Honor Flights are dedicated to transporting our WW II Veterans to Washington, D.C. to see the memorials built in their honor. What a wonderful way to Honor the Men and Women who served in World War II. “It’s Never To Late To Say Thank-You” to all the brave men and women that serve and have served in our Armed Forces.
The property that the house sits on is huge. It’s full of old trees, lilac bushes, flowers and plants that seem to change with the seasons. There is a garden behind the garage where Kim spent summers helping her Grandma plant. It has a small pond with fish, a small foot bridge that is over a creek that flows into Lake Winnebago. There are two sheds full of “grandpa’s treasures” Antique farm equipment is scattered around the property and a large weather vane that squeaks loudly when it catches the wind.
The garage is big enough to house three cars. A smokehouse is on the property that hasn’t been used in years. It’s a gazebo style structure with a built in brick/wood burning stove, where they cooked pizza, I do believe. On the property, they also have wild life. I live in the woods of northern Wisconsin and I have yet to see a deer in my yard. I have plenty of rabbits, squirrels and birds but no deer. They live in the city and have a yard full of deer, raccoons, foxes and a family of owls!
Update: In the Spring of 2014, the smokehouse had a face lift. In July of 2014, it was the setting for a wedding.
Another thing they have in their yard are four humongous Mulberry trees. I mean these babies are Huge! Back in June, we (Kim and I) had planned a thrift shopping day. Something we often do during the summer months. You see Bob and Kim are both teachers, and have summers off. When we got back from our adventurous day thrift shopping, we were walking around the yard and I noticed these blackish, purplish stains on the driveway. I walked over to get a better look and there were a literally a million berries all over the ground. At first I thought they were blackberries but nope, blackberries don’t grow on trees.
What are Those??
I asked Kim,” What kind of berries are these?” ” I don’t know” she said. I said, “Let’s go ask Grandpa.” Well Grandpa thought they were boysenberries but he wasn’t really sure what they were but he was pretty sure the weren’t poisonous. I decided to eat a few and they tasted pretty darn good to me. A cross between a blackberry/blueberry and açaí berries. Kim suggested I take a sample home and google it. I did indeed went home and googled it. They weren’t boysenberries but they were mulberries. Score!
I immediately called Kim and told her what they were. This was a huge find. Not many people have access to mulberries in their yard and definitely not trees that are well established like these were. (we discovered a few years later that they also have black walnut trees on their property.) Like any good wife, she immediately sent Bob back outside to pick the berries. He picked a gallon size, zip-lock baggie full of berries. I told him to freeze them until I could get back.
Stains, Stains, Stains
According to Bobby, mulberries aren’t much fun to “pick.” They stain your hands, clothes, shoes and anything else they come in contact with but the stains do wash away eventually. It was a few weeks later before I got back for a visit. We (me, Kim and Bobby) picked two 5 quart ice cream pails full of berries. If you have ever picked berries of any kind, you know that’s a lot! These yummy berries aren’t fun at all to pick. Our hands were stained black, we were getting eaten up alive by mosquitoes, bees were swarming around us and most of the berries were hard to reach. BUT, they are so worth it.
Next year, after some research, we learned that the easiest way to “pick” mulberries is to actually “whack” them off the tree. We’re going to lay a large tarp/old sheet on the ground, Bob will get on a step ladder to reach the higher branches, and Kim and I will bang or whack the lower limbs of the tree with a baseball bats. This will jog the berries loose, they’ll fall to the ground and land on the tarp/old sheet. We can then lift the corners of the tarp/old sheet together and dump them into large pails. This process should make picking/whacking/harvesting the mulberries much easier. If you’re wondering what mulberries taste like, to me they taste like blackberries, blueberries and acai berries all wrapped into one delicious berry.
Since mulberries spoil rather quickly, unless you plan on using them right away, I would highly suggest freezing them first. You don’t want all your hard work picking the berries to go to waste. Therefore I always freeze the berries asap until I’m ready to make jam. Before freezing the berries, lightly sort through them. Pick out any leaves and sticks and bugs. It is not necessary to rinse the mulberries before freezing (unless they have been sprayed with chemicals) nor is it necessary to remove the small stems at the top of the berries before freezing.
Since mulberries are loaded with seeds, cook the fresh/frozen berries down, the small stems and all. After I cook down the berries, put the berries through a food mill or strain through layers of cheesecloth, squeezing the pulp, seeds and stems. Discard pulp, seeds etc. From the 5 quart pail of mulberries, I ended up with a 1/2 gallon of juice and stained hands. The recipe I used to make jelly called for 4 cups of juice per batch.
Now on to the recipe.