My childhood memories include a whole lot of mulberries.
I grew up in Israel, in a small place called Kibbutz. If you are not familiar with a Kibbutz, it’s basically a self-sustained commune. You can learn more about the Kibbutz Here.
We used to skip classes and go wandering around. You could find us in different places depending on the season but during the month of May you wouldn’t have to look too hard, we were at the mulberries.
I think I’ve eaten more mulberries than rice in my life.
A few months after I purchased my land here in NC, I met with our local cooperative extension agent to discuss farming possibilities.
The original plan was to plant a few acres with pecan trees, but I also wanted to explore different options. So I asked him about mulberries.
He looked at me like I’d lost my mind and told me that mulberries are considered a weed here in the South.
Did you lose your mind? I didn’t say that out loud…
Have you ever try mulberry jam? I did say that out loud…
As much as I tried I could not convince the guy that he is missing a very important berry in this berry-full state of North Carolina.
Deep inside, I know that there is a huge market for mulberry jam because after you try it you’ll forget all about strawberries, blueberries or whatever else ends with erries…
Anyway, this year we happen to be visiting Israel right in time for mulberry harvest so I wanted to share with you how I make mulberry jam.
You will do the same as we are about to do here with any kind of mulberry but in this post, we are going to use my favorite kind; the Pakistani Mulberry.
This here, my friends, is the best thing that has ever come out of Pakistan.
My mother-in-law has this tree in her yard. It was given to her as a gift eight years ago. It was probably two years old when she planted it and it started producing fruit a year later.
This tree is self-pollinating which means you can grow just one.
This kind of mulberry was developed in Islamabad. The main difference between this mulberry to others is that the fruit is around three inches long!
It is juicy, has a deep red-purple color, does not stain, and is the sweetest thing ever.
The tree is very easy to grow. It is very tolerant of heat, humidity, and sun, tolerant of drought and poor soil, and is disease resistant. It ripens mid spring to mid summer (see how to plant fruit trees HERE).
This tree can grow to be 40 to 50 feet tall! My mother-in-law keeps it small and manageable by aggressively pruning it every winter (learn more about pruning HERE).
The fruit is scattered all over the tree and there is no need to thin it.
It starts out green and then gradually turns red-purple. It’s very cool to watch this.
If the fruit is not picked it will fall on the ground. I guess this is the only downside I can see to this tree, it can get messy underneath. However, if you have chickens, ducks, or pigs I am sure they can enjoy the fallen fruit.
So one morning, I sent my baby out with a mission to pick half a bucket full of mulberries.
This proved to be an impossible mission for a 5-years-old. The berries went right in his tummy instead of in the bucket…
So obviously I had to help. After a little while, we managed to pick enough berries for the jam.
Even though we ate the berries right from the tree I went ahead and washed them for the jam.
Next, I cleaned out the top of the stem. It is hard and not so much fun to eat.
The stem goes all the way through the berry, but the top part (which I removed) is the only hard part. Still, it’s nicer if you don’t end up with stems in your jam so I processed the berries in the food processor for a couple of minutes.
From the food processor, I transferred this goodness into a pot. I like to use a wide and shallow pot for cooking jams.
I wasn’t doing this in my own kitchen so I didn’t have a scale. I just eyeballed the sugar amount I added.
Traditionally you supposed to have a 1:1 ratio between sugar and fruit but for me, it’s just too sweet and I can’t taste the fruit. So I usually add 50% of the weight of the fruit in sugar. For example, if I am using 2 lb or fruit I’ll use 1 lb sugar. Sometimes a little more sometimes a little less but this is the rule I generally follow.
If you plan to can your jam and worry about it lasting a long time you might want to add a little bit extra sugar. I didn’t can this jam – we kept it in the fridge and ate it during the five weeks we were visiting. It was plenty sweet enough and lasted the whole five weeks in the fridge easily.
After adding the sugar, turn the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil. Remember to stir frequently. Let it boil for five minutes then lower the heat to medium.
You can skim out the foam but I didn’t. It just disappeared later in the cooking.
In the beginning, the mixture will have a lot of juice in it. Keep cooking the jam while stirring frequently for 25 minutes or until about 50% of the juice is gone.
It will thicken a little bit but still won’t gel…
This is the time to add about a tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice…
And a few (4-5) lemon seeds. This is a trick I’ve learned from a friend a few years ago. The lemon seeds have natural pectin in them and will do the same job as store-bought pectin.
I add them to all my jams 10 or 15 minutes before the jam is done.
Stir in the lemon juice and lemon seeds and cook until the jam reaches your desired consistency. I usually don’t bother removing the lemon seeds when the jam is ready. I just leave them there and remove them when I come across them as I use the jam.
You can leave it a bit on the runny side so you can use it as a sauce for pancakes and french toast or crapes or you can cook it a bit more to a thicker consistency.
Once it’s done, turn off the heat and let it sit for a few minutes. If you are going to can this jam, this will be the time to do it, when it’s still hot. You can see the water bath canning process in my tomato sauce canning post HERE. Everything will be the same but the processing time. For berry jam, process pint and half-pint jars 15 minutes in the water bath.
I waited for the jam to cool a bit and then went in search of sour cream. Yogurt will work great too.
I added a couple tablespoons of the jam and nothing else. It’s so good. It can be a snack or your breakfast or dinner. And the kids love it too! Of course, it’s also great on bread.
If you have room in your yard but not yet have a mulberry tree consider planting one. You can find Pakistani Mulberry on the Stark Brothers site but their supply is very limited so you have to keep a close eye on when they are available. I have yet to find this tree in a local nursery.
If anyone knows of another place to get this tree please share the information in the comments below.
This one tree can produce so much food for the homestead! You can share the fresh berries with the whole neighborhood and you’ll still have enough to can jam and sauce for the year. You can use the jam in baking too… I made yummy thumbnail cookies which I will share with you next week using this jam in their center. It was so good!
Even though I didn’t use a scale to measure the fruit/sugar when I made this jam I’ll add the handy printable below as a general guideline…