[I think I've finally gotten this mulberry G&T just perfect. And I'm starting to notice the first mulberries on the path of the trail I run, so it's right on time, too! Here's a bit I wrote for our local paper with the full instructions.]
Slightly tart and vibrantly purple, mulberries are every bit as delicious as their more often eaten cousins, the raspberry and blackberry. While you could bake them in a pie or tart, when I see mulberries starting to drop from the tree in my backyard, I know that there's only one thing to do—make mulberry gin.
To make mulberry gin you must first, of course, have mulberries. If you have a tree of your own, you're in business. If not, however, you may be able to get a friend to come let you pick from their tree. Mulberries stain sidewalks and driveways, so many people are happy to give you the berries if you'll just come clean them up.
I typically carefully climb up a ladder with a small bucket so that I can pick as many berries as possible. If you're not keen on heights however, you can also spread a sheet on the ground and give the tree and branches a good shake to make the berries fall. You'll need 4-6 cups of berries; as a general rule, if your hands aren't stained bright purple, you're not done yet!
Next, you need about a half-gallon of gin. When purchasing gin, try to select a bottle that's middle-of-the-road in price. You don't need an incredibly high end gin, but you won't like the end result if you buy the cheapest gin you can find, either. I started using “Most Wanted” several summers ago because I liked that it was local, and I've found it to be a good middle ground.
After washing them well, add the berries and a few cups of sugar to a one-gallon, food safe container. Feel free to alter the amount of sugar based on your own taste and the sweetness of the berries you're using. Two cups is a good starting point, but it's not an exact recipe.
Shake or stir to combine the berries and sugar. Pour the gin over the top, and shake or stir more to get the berries, juice, sugar, and gin to all combine.
And then it's time to wait. Put a lid on the container, and stash it in a cool, dark place. About Labor Day weekend—or two to three months after you've mixed everything together—pull it out again and strain off the berries, pressing out as much liquid as you possibly can. You can toss the mulberries then, but remember, they will be extremely alcoholic. Be sure to dispose of them where birds and other animals won't be tempted to eat them.
Pour the, now very purple, gin into a clean container. You can drink it right away, but it's best if you let it mellow even more. I typically put mine right back in my cool, dark basement, with a note to open it the following spring. During the first hot days of summer, there's not much more refreshing than a mulberry gin and tonic enjoyed in the backyard.
Mulberry Gin and Tonic
In a half-pint mason jar, add three ounces of mulberry gin. Rub a few sprigs of time between the palms of your hands, and add them to the jar as well. Add ice and stir gently. Then, fill the glass the rest of the way with tonic water. Garnish with just one more sprig of thyme, squeeze in a twist of citrus, and drink on a porch swing if you've got one!