The summers here in Illinois are great. They’re hot enough to warrant a popsicle but not so hot you find yourself completely melting in the heat (like Texas). It’s wonderful, and one of my favorite seasons. It’s an excuse to go and barbecue, to jump in a lake, or sit in a lawn chair with a beer, listening to the raid, or have red stained lips from the popscicle you chased down as the ice cream truck cruised by.
It was magical season when we were young, a time of freedom and fun. A point in life where adventure was just beyond the sticker bushes, and you came home when the street lights came on.
Early in the summer the mulberry trees bloom and grow luscious purple berries that swell heavy with juice, and grow wild in park and vacant lots, on the side of the road, and on bike paths. They’re an excellent fruit that you can gather wild, on y our own. It’s a great date idea, running out and going berry picking, and them coming home to enjoy the fruits of your labor. It’s even more fun considering that you will get very messy. The last time I went mulberry picking, my hands and feet were bright purple, along with a purple ring around my lips.
They’re easy to gather in a bucket, bag, or bowl, and look like reddish blackberries or tiny purple raspberries. All they take is a quick rinse to relieve them of their natural grime (though I’m not beyond nibbling a few, warm from the sun), and they’re ready to eat.
They’re fantastic as a pie (such as Brigid’s Mulberry Pie), but there is so much more that they can be used for. A syrup to flavor soda, or poured over ice cream, or as a filling for home made turnovers. You can even make a thick, sticky reduction to flavor your butter, or glaze a ham!
But in the summer, there is nothing better than a popscicle that stains everything it drips on purple, and tastes like sweet sunshine and the land it came from.
Mulberry Ice Pops: Serves 10
-6 1/2 c. fresh mulberries, washed and dried gentle with a paper towel or salad spinner
-1/2c. plus 2 Tbsp sugar
-1/2 c. plus 2 tbsp water
-1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
-Dissolve sugar in water in saucepan. Cool.
-Puree mulberries in a food processor and sieve into a pitcher, throwing out the stems and seeds. Add in your simple syrup and lemon juice into the pitcher, and stir to combine.
-Pour into your popsicle molds and freeze for a minimum of five hours.