18 June 2009

blue tarp = summer fun

what can you do with a blue tarp? you can drag it down the street to the giant mulberry tree-- the one that's staining the road beneath it, and, apparently feeding all the birds in the neighborhood (according to all the purple droppings splattered on windshields and lawn chairs). many people find mulberry trees to be more of a nuisance, than a community treasure. the joy of cooking has this to say about mulberries:
purple-fruited mulberry trees are best suited, in our opinion, for varying the diets--and flexing the muscles--of marauding schoolboys.
but our buddy, euell gibbons is not so dismissive. he offers the suggestion of placing a plastic sheet, or tarp, under the mulberry tree, shaking the limbs, and gathering the fruit.

that's what we did. and then we dragged that tarp all over the neighborhood, sometimes with a passenger, and gathered enough berries to make the mulberry jelly recipe in stalking the wild asparagus. with all those stems and seeds, they aren't really suitable for jam making. but with a little pectin added, they are just right for jelly.

ours was more like a seedless jam, because i am not content to simply allow the juices of the fruit to passively drip from the jelly bag. no, i have to stir and push and wring the pulp filled bag until every possible edible particle has passed through. so, ours is not translucent, like some jellies, but it did jell. and i, personally, prefer this texture to "pure" jelly anyway. this year i was lucky enough to find low methoxyl citrus pectin (at bloomingfoods), which allowed us to cut our sugar almost in half, without using the questionable, sure-jel version of low sugar pectin. we ended up canning almost seven, half-pint jars, and the stuff is yummy! cosmo loves it, though i dare say, not as much as the fresh berries, right off the tree (or, ground right next to the tree, as the case may be). we've already been out to the rails-to-trails for black berries, and we'll head back out to bray's for blueberries, probably next week.
what else can you do with a blue tarp? construct a make-shift kiddy pool. this one is all carl and cosmo. cosmo saw a slip and slide at kroger(?), and has been talking about wanting to get one. i told him about the budget one my mom made for us as kids, out of an old shower curtain, and the garden hose. with the tarp already out, carl thought it might work. it didn't. tarps are not very slippery.

but, with a little ingenuity, he and cosmo built up an edge around one side (employing that multi-purpose dryer vent hose, once again!), and made a giant, blue puddle, perfect for splashing and wading in on a hot summer day. it also stores a little easier that those hard plastic kiddy pools.


Alli said...

What great fun!! I wish I had a mulberry tree! I do have a giant blue tarp though! ;)

Malke said...

Great idea about the tarp and water play!

mep said...

Inspired by your blog, I am hell-bent on preserving something this year, just to give it a try. I'm thinking of getting my feet wet with freezer jam and the pectin they sell for it. However, with the best intentions, I checked out Canning and Preserving Without Sugar at the library this morning.

Anonymous said...

Cool homemade slip-and-slide!

We had 2 mulberry trees when we lived in town. One was sooo tasty, we ate all that we could reach as fast as they ripened. The other was rather bland and not worth the effort of picking, so we left that one for the wildlife.

On our current property, we don't have that many mulberry trees and none that produced the volume that our old trees in town did. Luckily, we have tons and tons of wild black raspberries and blackberries. I usually just freeze those to make fruit crisps in the winter. We're thinking we may make jelly or syrup from our elderberries this year.

I get the Pomona pectin from Bloomingfoods too! I didn't realize it's the better kind of pectin.

julie said...

We left town with our mulberries not yet ripe, and came back to find them all GONE!!!

Damn birds.