Several years ago, I could not have picked out a mulberry in a police lineup of fruits. The only reference I had to mulberries was the song about a bush. I never thought about them and had never even had the opportunity to taste them. Little did I know what I was missing.

Mulberries are messy and tedious to prepare, but the reward for stemming each one separately is a juicy and flavorful fruit. Sup U/

One summer, we were visiting our son and his wife in Queens, New York, and, as always, they had planned an adventure for us. Now our son is an eccentric, creative type who would not dream of getting from point A (their apartment) to point B (the Queens Botanical Garden) in the most direct way. He had to add the fun of meandering through several neighborhoods.

When we finally reached our destination, we found that we were on the back side of the gardens and would have to trudge all the way around. It was a blistering hot July day. Taking just a little break in the shade, I looked over to see my husband and son snacking on berries from a large tree. Instantly I recalled the frantic phone call to the poison center when our son was a 7-year-old and had found some strange berries to sample. Luckily, that adventure ended well, but this time I was not so sure.

I had never seen this kind of berry, but both my boys assured me they were tasty and must be OK to eat because the birds were eating them. I was not convinced. When we got to the garden my motherly instinct kicked in and I asked the botanist for assistance in identifying the berries. “Oh, those are mulberries,” she said, “you can eat as many as you like.” Only then did I try them. I was so pleasantly surprised. Wow, how does one describe the taste of a mulberry? Juicy and sweet for sure, a bit tedious to stem (each berry separately) and messy (our ancestors may have used them as dye at some point, as I learned the hard way that the juice is not easy to get off clothing), but what a delightful experience for the mouth! Why aren’t these tiny bursts of flavor (also high in antioxidants) a worldwide sensation? And to think they grow in Maine.

We developed an obsession with these newfound fruits. We found an old mulberry tree on city property and harvested berries the next year. We gave a mulberry tree as a birthday present to 5-year-old twins. We were happy to find out that mulberry trees were allowed on our sidewalk egress, so we decided to purchase one. They had just three left at the greenhouse, and serendipitously it was sale season (two for one special). Of course we had to get twins – a happy pair.

Our luck continued. As the arborist was putting one of the trees into our van, he accidentally broke a branch, so he decided to throw in the last tree for free. (Three for one special!) We now have prolific mulberry tree triplets, and although our neighbors need to learn not to park under them in July and August (look around, folks), we are delighted to spend hours gathering mulberries and, yes, even stemming them. Our Thanksgiving is no longer complete without our beloved family, and our new favorite dessert – mulberry pie! Our mouths water thinking about the yummy smoothies, cakes, muffins and crisps that we will enjoy all year long.

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