*This post contains affiliate links. This means that if you click through and give the product a whirl, I get a tiny fee for spreading the news at no extra cost to you.
You may have noticed I love food. I consider it a sport and I'm going pro, y'all.
And if you've been following this blog for a moment, you may have noticed the recipes I post tend to fall into one of two categories: Waste Not Want Not challenges or Meals Without Plastic challenges. The Meals Without Plastic recipes are to raise awareness of plastic food packaging and zero waste menu options, and the Waste Not Want Not challenges are both to encourage conscientiousness about food waste and to raise awareness about the importance of native edibles or low maintenance, low impact food sources according to your region.
Which brings me to... the mulberry!
Mulberries may look like black berries, but these tasty little delights actually grow on trees! Red mulberries are actually native to the eastern US, and De Soto observed Muskogee Indians eating dried mulberry fruits in the mid-1500s. White mulberries are not native and were imported from China for the failed silk industry, but they can thrive in high-salt environments, such as coastal areas. All mulberries tend to be incredibly fast-growing, thrive in sandy or poor soil, are drought tolerant, rarely require irrigation after establishment, and generally do not require fertilization. Various sorts of mulberry can thrive in USDA zones 4-9. That, my friends, is my kind of gardening.
(For a recap on why synthetic fertilizers are bad, the damage they do as they run off into our waterways, and the consequences of the estimated 75 MILLION POUNDS of fertilizer used by Americans alone each year, check out this Scientific American article.)
This means that these trees put much less of a strain on the environment in their growing regions, versus crops that need nurturing, extensive watering, frequent fertilizing, pesticides, and/or fruits that are shipped in from half way across the planet. Since these mulberries are local to my family home in Jacksonville and foraged, they required no packaging or refrigeration, and were transported a whopping five miles to my parents' kitchen. (Side note: Keep an eye out, Charleston. These will be ripe up here in not too long.)
It really ought to have been named the stain berry, though. It's like the turmeric of berries: your fingers will turn purple, your lips will turn purple, your clothes will turn purple. You'll start compulsively belting out "Purple Rain".
Wear gloves when picking your mulberries, but they're so worth it! And leave some for the birds, y'all. Mulberry trees and shrubs also have an incredibly high yield, which provides a food source for wildlife. I can't wait to put one in my yard!
Mulberries are sweet, juicy, and delicious. I probably ate as many out of my hand as I put in my basket, but those that DID make it into the basket went into this little Compost and Cava original recipe below.
I grew up in North Florida, which may as well be Southern Georgia (my parents' home is about 20-30 minutes from the state line), and you can't grow up in the South and not love a good cobbler. They're sweet but not sugary, soft yet crunchy. Because I'm not a chef, this recipe was inspired by this blackberry cobbler recipe from William Sonoma.
I knew I wanted to play with this one and bring some different flavors in to complement the mulberries, so there are little hits of lemon and rosemary along with peaches to lend it a summery, juicy kick. Give it a whirl and let me know what you think!
Ultimate Mulberry Peach Cobbler with Rosemary Topping
4 cups mulberries
2 cups peeled and roughly chopped peaches
1/3 cup sugar
1 Tbs. all-purpose flour
1 Tbs. lemon juice
1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
generous 1/2 tsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary (or as desired)
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
6 Tbs. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted and
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
*This gallery contains affiliate links. This means that if you click through and give the product a whirl, I get a tiny fee for spreading the news at no extra cost to you. This helps me offset the enormous amount of time that goes into Compost & Cava.
Preheat an oven to 375ºF. Lightly grease a 2-quart baking dish.
Carefully wash and pick over mulberries, removing as much of green stem as you are able with sharp knife point.
Combine mulberries, chopped peaches, sugar, flour, lemon zest and juice, and salt in large bowl. Gently toss until blended, then layer into baking dish.
For cobbler topping, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, rosemary, and salt in mixing bowl. In separate smaller bowl, whisk egg, buttermilk, vanilla and rosemary until seamlessly blended.
Make well in dry flour mixture. Pour in egg mixture and fold together until soft dough is formed. (I was initially concerned the dough was too loose and too moist. It came out perfectly.)
Spoon rounded portions of dough over fruit filling. There will be gaps between spoonfuls. If desired, lightly sprinkle salt, sugar, or equal blend of both over top of dough for additional texture/savory note.
Bake until the filling is bubbling, the topping is browned and a toothpick inserted into the topping comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature with or without ice cream or fresh whipped cream. Serves 8 to 10.
Y'all, I'm really happy with this one. Conscientious eating was never so much fun. (Except for that time I made Sour Orange Limoncello under the guise of saving the planet. Sue me.)
Imagine for a moment how different our lives would be if we all committed to a focus on native, low-impact food sources instead of shipping in red peppers from South America in January. I love my garden, and I love all the high maintenance foods I've got in there, but I've also committed to learning more about this land I call my home and what thrives on it, naturally.