Who's to say what grows in a Food Desert? I say Karadut Receli, that's what! So, heading out to a secret spot known only to Sparky and myself (well, and about two hundred other children) we hit up our favorite local mulberry tree. Mulberries, related to figs and jackfruit, are propagated by birds, making them viable forage even in the food desert. Using the specialized equipment pictured below, (that's fingers and a used grocery bag) we wound up with about two quarts of berries (had we brought even more specialized equipment - say, a sheet and a long pole we could shake the branches with, this would have been an even easier proposition)
this recipe...and then found all kinds of warnings online that the unripe berries are poisonous, so I spent quite a bit of time picking them all out (none of the warnings seemed particularly scientific - I sent a query to the extension office, but in the meantime, who needs to find out the hard way?) I figured that pectin wasn't all that necessary for this recipe, anyway - I'd be happy with a thick preserve.
They were beautiful, though.
(Quick - see if you can think about Pyramus and Thisbe without also thinking about donkey heads! -extra points if you got the reference without clicking through!)
After picking, I used yet another piece of specialized equipment for de-stemming: that's right, I pinched the stems between two fingernails.
When I finally had about two cups of berries, I carefully washed them and tossed them in a pot with about 1/2 cup of sugar and a shot of lime juice (bottled lime juice is fine in this recipe; I found it greatly enhances the flavor which is otherwise just sweet - somehow, lemon juice doesn't work.) I boiled and lightly mashed the berries until I had a thick, syrupy preserve. I poured it into 4 oz jelly jars and processed it in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes (this step is only necessary if you plan to save the jelly for later, otherwise you can keep it in the refrigerator) The resultant preserve was sweet, thick, and had a lovely nutty crunch remeniscent of poppy seeds - similar to grape jelly, but with a nice floral accent from the lime. Nutritional Information.
Sparky opted for his own traditional use for preserves, where it performed admirably:
I opted to try the traditional Turkish use for this jelly: atop some bread covered in feta cheese (sometimes you can get feta crumbles in the food desert, but if not, use cottage or cream cheese.) The sour saltiness of the cheese was a lovely counterpoint to the sweetness of the preserves.