Springtime arrivals, like cherries, don't generally send us to the cookbook stash; they're eaten well before they get made into anything lasting. But we've been searching feverishly for ways to stretch out mulberry season. White mulberries just arrived at Mud Creek Ranch and will be shortly followed by the juicy, long fingers of Persian mulberries in a couple of weeks. If you're lucky, you've been eying a neighborhood tree to get your seasonal fill (they grow exceptionally well here), but if not, there are local vendors who will provide.
White mulberries do not have the tart, berry flavor blast of their much darker cousins. Instead, their color, which is actually more translucent than white, mimics their taste – simple and honey sweet with nice Fuji apple finish. Mud Creek Ranch has had their white mulberry trees for about a decade now, but only started offering them recently. One strawberry basket of them will set you back about $7, in large part because they are a labor intensive harvest. Those small delicate vesicles of juice do not take kindly to rough handed picking, no matter how tough the trees are (The California Rare Fruit Growers say that the white mulberry trees are, “quite tolerant of drought, pollution and poor soil.” Welcome to LA.) Though you'll find them a little less juicy than black and red varieties.
We're toying around with thoughts of mulberry wine, but with all the warm weather we've been having, a simple white mulberry sorbet, brightened with a little lemon, sounds just about perfect. Mulberry season, in general, is pretty short. White mulberry season is even shorter.