In the mountains, the rules are different; barter, for instance, is still practiced. Our mulberry tree mysteriously refused to give us any fruit for ten years on; our neighbor has the tree that keeps on giving; we help ourselves and she gets our peaches and eggplants (and cucumbers, etc).
Her mother, an energetic 89-year-old, climbs the tree herself and makes the family’s traditional mulberry syrup or sharab el-toot. She wanted to give me a few pointers: ” keep the red ones in the batch, they will supply a little tanginess”.
True, picking berries is messy. I did not wear gloves and after 10 minutes I looked like I had just slaughtered a huge pig. Never mind, a rinse will get rid of all that juicy redness. Think of the advantages: A delicious, high-fiber drink, anytime you want. Making the mulberry syrup is easy and rather quick.
Here is the method: Quickly rinse the berries and throw the lot (in batches) in the food processor; purée, transfer to a sieve and collect the juice (keep the rest to make jam with). Measure the juice and transfer to a large pot preferably stainless steel. Add double the amount of sugar (if you get a quart of juice, get 2 of sugar). Stir over medium heat, skim off the froth if you get any. After 10 minutes, the liquid should turn to syrup.
To sterilize bottles: boil in water for 5 minutes and air-dry.
NOTE: This traditional mulberry syrup is no longer sold or exported; it has been replaced by blackberry syrup. I have not tried this method with blackberries, but since they are readily available in the US, I would be willing to give it a try.
To use mulberry syrup: Pour 3 tablespoons in a glass; add 6 oz of water and stir. Drink cold. Offer to all the people that drop by for an impromptu visit.
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