Fashionistas would think of expensive handbags when hearing the word 'mulberries'. Entomologists would think 'silkworms', since the insects only eat the leaves of the mulberry tree. It's quite a rare fruit to come across, though, which was why I mistook them for blackberries when encountering them for the first time in a wet market. It wasn't until I took the berries home and started to prepare them for jam that I realised my mistake - each has a thin green stem attached to it that holds the fruit together. With blackberries, the stem-end is recessed. The ones I bought were the black variety but they also come in white, purple and red. Unlike blackberries and raspberries, which grow on low bushes, the mulberry grows on tall trees, perhaps the reason the fruit isn't widely cultivated. The fruit is available now at a few wet markets but the season is brief, so you'll have to act quickly if you want some. The berries are sold in small baskets and are usually covered with mul-berry leaves, which are an indicator of freshness - if the leaves are green and supple, the berries should be fresh. Look under the leaves for signs of mould. The berries should be plump, glossy and fairly evenly coloured. Mulberries can be used in any dish where you would use blackberries or raspberries. The flavour is sweet-tart and the fruit is denser and less juicy than raspberries. For jam, thoroughly rinse the berries then use scissors to trim the stem as close to the fruit as possible. Weigh the fruit, mix it with half its weight of sugar then leave in the fridge for about eight hours, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Bring to the boil, skim off the surface foam then simmer until the mixture reaches the setting point. Stir in fresh lemon juice to taste, transfer to sterilised jars then process in a boiling water bath or store in the fridge. For an unusual, vividly coloured vodka (assuming you're using black, purple or red mulberries), put the fruit (rinsed well then patted dry with paper towels) in a clean glass jar, add a little sugar and cover with vodka. Allow to steep for a couple of weeks, shaking the jar occasionally. Strain the liquid into a bottle and store in the freezer.