It's Mulberry season on the homestead, so I've been obsessively shaking the tree for the last couple of weeks. Let me explain...Mulberries grow on trees, not bushes or plants. My mulberry tree is a Red Mulberry (even though the ripe berries are black), and it grows on a slope in my backyard. It fruits once a year mid-spring, and because the berries don't all ripen at once, the harvest lasts two or three weeks. Since the backyard is home to my chickens and is segmented by fences and pens, it's difficult to drag a ladder back there. It's near impossible to find level footing for the ladder, even if I manage to navigate it through all the obstacles. Thank goodness there's another way to harvest all those lusciously sweet berries. And it's actually the traditional way to do it--shake the tree and let them fall. All I do is spread a clean tarp on the slope below the branches, grab a limb, and give it a few strong tugs. I am rewarded with a shower of ripe berries raining down on the tarp--and me. All that's left is to gather the tarp and scoop the berries into the basket. The unripe berries will stay attached to the branches, so I give them a day or two to ripen before doing this again. On the off days when I don't shake the tree, I hand pick what few ripe berries I find as I pass under the branches during my morning stroll. When I return to the kitchen, I add them to my morning smoothie because they're brimming with nutrients, and they have a reputation for helping to prevent gray hair. Yes! Now do you see why I'm so obsessed? It's all about aging gracefully. And what a yummy way to do it!
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