Mention ‘mulberry season’ to anyone who has, or has had, a mulberry tree in their lives, and you will probably hear two very different takes on it. ‘Yeah, mulberry trees. Their fruit are so sweet, so tasty. They remind me of growing up, and of summer. I remember sitting under the tree eating them for what seems like an eternity.’ OR ‘Yeah, mulberry trees. They have got to be one of the messiest fruit trees ever. They stain everything, everywhere. Everyone, including the dog, tracks them inside, and then there are purple stains, everywhere!’
I admit, I reside in both camps, as well. However, as I love food, and have a dedicated sweet tooth, I’m not letting them get away this year without picking them myself, straight from the branches (cause, you know, once they’re on the ground, within moments they will be a host for all of God’s insects just waiting for their seasonal sweetness…too.) Ripened mulberries are easily gathered, though if you do find yourself having to pull, even just a little, that is enough to start an avalanche of ripened mulberries from above, landing on your face, head and shoulders. There are worse things.
Only because I had recently made up a rather large batch of strawberry, rhubarb, tarragon preserves, I chose to not go that obvious route. Instead, I plucked a couple handfuls of my lemon verbena to pair with my haul of mulberries for a sweet and lemony gelato.
The recipe, which follows, is a standby, aka reliable), vanilla base that I change up by adding fruit or other flavorings. Feel free to add your own flavor spin, and your your own favorite herbs. I normally add my herbs during the steeping process, and then some additionally in the last 10 minutes of the churning process, as I do when adding fresh fruit, nuts, chips, etc.
A couple things to go along with this shoot. I recently purchased a new camera, ‘for my hubs.’ A Fuji xt-2, to be more precise. I asked, nicely, if I could give it a test drive for this shoot, and I must admit, even with the kit lens that came with the camera, I am pretty darn impressed. I am now even more curious how it would perform with a nice piece of glass on the front. (I will let you know.) I had also just returned from my first antiques flea of this season, and brought home a few gems that I, yes, incorporated into this very quickie shoot. The tray, the fabric, the beautiful little amber vase, and the serving dishes (chipped edges and all.) So, for a gelato recipe that I hadn’t really planned on ‘shooting’ on anything but my iphone for a fast insta post, with all these new things to play around with…this happened.
***One week later, I made up a second batch of this gelato. On this evening, as I was looking through one of my favorite cookbooks, ‘Gone Fishing’ by Mikkel Karstad, for a different recipe, I came across his pancake (crepe) recipe and decided to whip some up, because the crepes are that fast and are that easy. So I did, and tossed a few rose petals on it all, for good luck.
Lemon Verbena Gelato
(makes about 3 1/2 cups)
2 1/4 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy whipping creme
1 vanilla bean cut open lengthwise, seeds intact
1/4 cup lemon verbena leaves (I have used lemon balm leaves, though it produces a sharper lemon flavor) stripped off stem, and rinsed
5 large eggs yolks
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup, or so, of fresh, thoroughly rinsed mulberries
In a heavy bottomed saucepan, heat milk, cream, lemon verbena leaves, and vanilla bean until small bubbles appear along the edges.
Turn the heat to low and simmer for an hour. Do not let mixture boil.
Remove the leaves.
Remove the vanilla bean and scrape out all of the seeds, adding them back into the mixture. Gently reheat the mixture, again, do not boil.
In a heat proof bowl, whisk egg yolks and sugar until pale yellow and thick.
Add about 1/4 cup of the warm milk mixture slowly to the sugar mixture while whisking. Repeat this with another 1/4 or so of the warm milk mixture.
Then add the entire sugar/milk mixture back to the warm milk mixture that is in the pan.
Stir with a wooden spoon on medium heat until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of the spoon. DO NOT LET BOIL.
Pour the mixture into a bowl, cover and let cool to room temperature before placing it in the fridge until thoroughly chilled – a few hours to overnight – and ready for your ice cream machine. Follow the manufacturers instructions of your ice cream maker, adding mulberries in the last 10 minutes of the churning process.
Scrape the gelato from your ice cream machine into a container and place in the coldest spot of your freezer, for several hours to overnight, until frozen to your desired consistency.