There’s a black mulberry tree growing up against the barn, and under proper conditions, its fruit is deep purple – almost black – and divine: sweet and juicy, with less tartness than a blackberry. It’s a real challenge to get to those berries before the birds (and bugs) do. This year, while the tree is loaded with immature fruit, the berries aren’t plump – in fact, some are like raisins.
Sadly, it seems that the early heat and lack of precipitation has wreaked havoc on the mulberry. The fowl and wild birds don’t seem to mind – the chickens and ducks have been jumping up and snatching berries from the branches they can reach…and the wild birds get the berries that are up too high for anyone else.
I couldn’t just let the berries go to the birds, though, so I picked about a cup’s worth and used it (mashed) for a water kefir second ferment. It was delightful – as expected – but we clearly need some additional rain to plump those berries up!
Despite the berries’ appearance, the flavor of the water kefir was still very nice, and a lovely rosy hue. If the berries recover, I’ll make syrup and wine from them, too; if they don’t, at least I’ll have these water kefir memories!