It is the first wild food I ever remember eating. I wasn't even in school yet. We were renting a house at the dead end of a street in a somewhat rough but respectable blue collar neighborhood in Toledo. Straight across the street and behind the neighbor's house was a vacant lot with three, big, bushy mulberry trees. Every year, in the magic time when Spring gives way to summer, they were loaded with fruit. Ever kid in the neighborhood -- and mean every kid -- would have purple stained finger tips and faces for the next two weeks.
One summer while in college I worked as a camp counselor for Michigan United Conservation Clubs. I was pleased to find a lovely mulberry tree right along the trail, beside the bridge over the little creek. Kids had changed some by then. For every kid that dutifully donned the purple war paint, there was an equal number that seemed out-and-out appalled that anyone would eat berries off a wild tree growing at the edge of the woods!
When I bought a house 18 years ago, the first tree I planted was a mulberry, because, dammit, my kids were going to have access to this fine little fruit! The tree hasn't done terribly well. I made the mistake of planting an "everbearing" variety, so most years the tree ripens just enough fruit each day to feed the utterly ravenous birds and squirrels. (I honestly believe the average squirrel would sell his soul to the devil for a handful of mulberries.) My tree is also very susceptible to popcorn disease, which many years deforms more than half the fruit. Over the years it has supplied me more so with cordage fiber from its bark and smoking wood from its branches (smokes like apple) than with berries.
But every so often the weather is just right to make a good crop. The last time was enough years back that I don't recall how long ago it was. At the time I picked enough for a pie and was surprised how good it was. This year everything fell into place again, and I have picked enough for two pies! The recipe is the same as for blackberry pie, 6 cups of berries, 1 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup of flour, 425 for 35 minutes. Simple, and utterly delicious!
I'm going to keep picking and freezing them for as long as the supply holds. I also have my eye on a tree down the street behind the tennis courts of the community association where my kids are on the swim team. Oddly, that fruit hasn't started ripening yet. There are several others with fruit on them now, but very small, and much it above reach. Sadly, I have never seen any sign of kids working that mulberry patch.