Here We Go ‘Round the Mulberry Bush

Everybody on the intarwebs has been all over the serviceberries this past week or so. Also known as Saskatoon berries (we called them Indian berries growing up in Nova Scotia), they became the meme of  local food foraging junkies and everybody had to have the things – right NOW! Except that it seems that nobody actually knew what a serviceberry looked like because they’re actually all over the place, and by the time most people had discovered that they did indeed know the whereabouts of a serviceberry bush, the birds had gotten to most of the berries and devoured them.

Another local berry popular with the birds and overlooked by people (until some local food expert points out that they’re tasty) is the mulberry. Similar in shape but slightly smaller than a blackberry, the mulberry is a popular tree in Toronto neighbourhoods – except during actual berry season when the berries fall off like small purple hailstones and turn everything in their vicinity purple. Beloved by both birds and squirrels, any sidewalk or paving stones underneath a mulberry bush get stained doubly so – once from the berries themselves and again from the bird crap.

It was this telltale purple sidewalk that alerted me to the mulberry bush in the front yard of a house along my regular dog-walking route. The tree was loaded, the sidewalk was covered in the things, and I figured if the owners were just going to let the berries go to waste on the ground, they wouldn’t mind if I helped myself to a few that were hanging over the sidewalk.

I picked about a pint’s worth (didn’t want to be greedy, and the birds were becoming increasingly unimpressed with my presence); not enough to make jam, but definitely enough for a batch of mulberry scones.