You can make this sweet and sour mulberry cocktail (or mocktail!) with blackberries, if you can’t find mulberries where you are.
It’s mulberry season here in the south! Trees are just beginning to produce, and Darrol Henry and I have been foraging for mulberries every week for about a month now. Pickings are on the slim side right now, but I was able to gather just enough berries for this mulberry cocktail recipe while he was napping. Because if he’d been awake, he would have eaten them. I’m a monster.
Foraging for Mulberries
I’m by no means a regular forager, but during mulberry season I do like to take field trips to collect free berries! Darrol Henry likes them, too, which means we spend less on berries for him at the market. Free food is the best food!
What’s interesting about mulberry trees – at least around here – is that a lot of folks consider them a nuisance. They drop their dark berries on the ground, on your house, and on your car. Mulberries are sort of like tiny blackberries, which means that they stain. That means that making this cocktail is basically a public service.
We have three mulberry trees in our backyard, which is kind of crazy. They were here when we moved in, and at first I had no idea what they were. A friend recommended sending a picture to our county extension office, and the fellow there confirmed that what I had was mulberries. Free fruit! Just growing wild on our property!
Our neighborhood is also packed with mulberry trees. There are at least half a dozen within a block of my house. If you live in the south, chances are there are trees near you, too. Here are some pictures of one of the mulberry trees in my backyard:
They grow as a tree or as a bush. You can identify them by their leaves and fruit. They have three-pronged, bright green leaves, which you can see best in the bottom right photo. The stems will be covered in white, pink, and purple berries.
If you think you have mulberries but aren’t sure, you can always google your own county extension office and send them a picture.
I’m pretty sure that the best time to forage for mulberries is early in the morning, before the squirrels are up. They ripen fast, so a tree that was covered in white berries yesterday will have some that are at least pink if not that nice, dark purple. Pink mulberries are a bit more sour, but sometimes you have to pick them early to beat the birds and squirrels to them. If they come easily off of the branch, they’re ready.
The sweetest mulberries are the dark purple ones that you find on the ground. After a storm or even a good gust of wind, the trees will shed their ripest berries. Whole mulberries right off of the sidewalk are treasures. Just wash them really well before you eat them!
Washing Your Mulberries
Foraged fruit tends to be a lot dirtier than fruit from the market, especially if you found those sweet, sweet fallen mulberries.
To wash, put your berries into a bowl with enough water to cover and just a tiny bit of apple cider vinegar – maybe 1/4 teaspoon per 2 cups water. Let them sit for a few minutes, then rinse thoroughly in a colander. Any dirt will float to the top of the bowl, making it a lot easier to clean the berries thoroughly without damaging them.
If you can’t find mulberries or can’t find enough mulberries for this mulberry cocktail recipe, you can substitute blackberries for some or all of the fruit.
The recipe below has instructions for a cocktail or a mocktail. The mocktail is sort of a mulberry sodapop, and it’s a delight.
Mulberry Cocktail: Mulberry Blackout Fizz
Yield: 1 mulberry cocktail or mocktail
- 1/2 cup mulberries or blackberries, washed well and drained
- juice of 1/4 a fresh lemon
- 2 ounces vegan light rum (For a mocktail, substitute orange juice or water. If you use orange juice, you can omit the sugar.)
- 3/4 teaspoon powdered sugar (or to taste)
- sparkling water
- a few dashes of orange bitters (omit for the mocktail)
- lemon twist, for garnish (A twist is a fancy word for a big, curly piece of zest. You can also use a lemon wedge, if you’d rather.)
- Combine the mulberries, lemon juice, rum, and sugar in your blender or food processor. Puree until smooth.
- Strain through a double layer of cheesecloth or a cocktail strainer into a small glass full of ice. Top off with the sparkling water, add the bitters, and garnish.