Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Marvelous Mulberries!

And then all of a sudden... the fruit on the mulberry tree starts ripening! We hardly picked any fruit from this old tree last summer. The birds got most of it and we couldn't get access to the branches. They lay low on the ground and we just let them be. Then in winter we pruned the tree heavily. We cut back the dangling limbs and gave the tree a good haircut! The result has been a bumper crop of purple hand staining berries! 
The tree is big. Very big. In the picture below you can see Frans up on the 6 foot ladder. He has no hope of reaching the top berries at all. These will be treats for the parrots.
Our friend John however has a taller ladder. A lovely old wooden number that gave Frans a little extra reaching power! A canvas satchel with a bowl inside was what he used to gather the berries in. 
Climbing the tree gave him a few extra bowls!

Just when he thought his boyhood tree climbing days were over.....
I guess I should have worn gloves! My hands were not the only stained body parts however. The day we picked these berries it was 40 degrees. We waited till late afternoon when it was a cooler 35 degrees! Picking the warm berries was not a huge chore, as we picked them dressed in our swimmers. We would pick some, then drop into the pool for a quick cool down and keep going. There is one thing I hate at this time of the year, and that's the March flies! Man, they bite! And they leave horrible itchy welts on arms, legs and feet... wherever they land! By the time I had picked a decent load of berries, I looked like I had been in a war zone. I was slapping (and missing) the March flies that would sit on my exposed skin, and in the process I covered myself in mulberry juice. The hazards of berry picking!

Some of our other fruit and veg picking this past week has included beautiful peaches, zucchini, beetroot and parsnips.

After cooking and weighing the beetroot, I was left with just over 5 kilograms of flesh. I cooked up an enormous pot of beetroot relish. It took the entire morning to process, but it looks lovely in the jars. 

In last weekend's Saturday Age newspaper, there was a lovely article on Maeve O'Meara, the presenter of the Food Safari television programs. She cites one of her favourite finds is black Turkish mulberry jam. Well, here is our version, and you don't have to travel as far to get it! The fruit is grown, picked and processed right here on our little farm in the Otways! 
It must be time for morning tea.... A scone with a dollop of something sweets sounds like a good idea! 
Till next time, have a good week.

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