Do you remember this song from when you were a kid? Here we go ‘round the mulberry bush? Let’s get one thing straight right away. Mulberries do not grow on bushes; they grow on trees. Now for a second thing: mulberries are not blackberries, though the two have often been confused. They look different, they taste different, and they grow differently. However, the focus for the rest of this article is on the magical mulberry.
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Would you believe mulberries are more closely related to figs and breadfruit than to other berries? They are grown mainly in Asia and North America, and besides their taste and eating value, some mulberry trees are grown for their leaves, which are the only thing silkworms will eat. Silkworms cocoon themselves in a finely spun, silky material that is used to make commercial silk.
Mulberries must be picked by hand, or you can try the shake and take method, where you spread something below the tree and shake the bottom branches so the berries fall. Mulberries also need to be used or eaten fairly quickly as they are fragile and don’t last long after ripening and being picked.
If you have ever seen people wearing garden hats gathered around a tree in mid summer, they might be picking mulberries.
These delicious and delicate berries come in different colors, including white, light purple, reddish, or deep purple in both their ripe and unripe state. Likewise, there are white, red, and black mulberry trees that, interestingly, don’t refer to the color of the fruit, but rather to the color of the protective coverings over the buds during winter.
The dark color of the deep purple berries gives it excellent dying properties that can be used for face and body paint. However, it may take a few washings to get rid of the stains. You can also use mulberry juice for dying fabrics.
Nutrients, Nutrients, and More Nutrients
Because of their mega nutritional value and health benefits, mulberries are escalating in worldwide popularity. They are also low calories, consisting of 88 % water and just 60 calories in one cup.
Besides fresh, sometimes they are dried and eaten, like a raisin, in which case their nutritional breakdown is as follows:
- 70 % carbohydrates
- 14 % fiber
- 12 % protein
- 3 % fat
Dried mulberries provide a powerhouse of health benefits. For example, they have more vitamin C than oranges, which is important for strengthening the immune system. In both the dried and fresh form, they provide more protein than other fruits. Dried mulberries also contain 30 % of the daily iron requirement and 10 % of the daily calcium value.
What Can You Do with Them?
Dried mulberries have a flavor similar to figs and usually have a crunchy consistency when they are dried. There are a number of things you can do with them, including:
- Granola: Add to a store-bought or homemade granola mix. They are also very good with nuts and coconut.
- Soak them: You can soak them in warm water to use them in recipes.
- Tea: Make yourself a delicious tea by dropping a few dried mulberries into the bottom of the cup and pouring hot water over them. You can do this with the berries alone or add them to your favorite herbal tea for a touch of sweetness.
- Enhance other foods: Add dried mulberries to cereal, yogurt and salad.
- Snack: Maybe the best of all – eat them as a snack.
The following are the nutritional values of a 3.5 ounce serving of fresh mulberries:
- Calories: 43
- Water: 88 %
- Protein: 1.4 grams
- Fiber: 1.7 grams
- Fat: 0.4 grams
Fresh mulberries consist of 14 grams per cup of carbs, which are in the form of glucose and fructose.
Fibers found in mulberries are 25 % soluble pectin, and 75 % insoluble lingnin. Fibers promote a healthy intestinal system, reduce cholesterol, and help strengthen the immune system.
Vitamins and Minerals
Mulberries are rich in vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin C and iron. In addition, they provide vitamin K1, which assists the body in bone health and blood clotting, potassium, which positively affects heart health and blood pressure, and vitamin E, which is an antioxidant. Antioxidants rid the body of cells that can lead to disease and cancer.
Simply put, mulberries are delicious. Some people compare the flavor to blackberries, but they have their own, unique taste. Other people think they are a bit more tart than blackberries, but others say they have a milder taste. The consensus is that they have a good balance of sweet and tart flavors.
What Can You Do with Them?
Use your imagination and you will come up with myriad uses for this delicious, healthy food. And if you are lucky enough to have a mulberry tree in your yard or neighborhood, you can relish the taste of these fresh berries in whatever you make or cook, whenever you want. Here are a few ideas to get your juices flowing.
- Pie: Think a nice, warm, right out of the oven mulberry pie! Your pie should be ready anywhere between June and August, when the mulberries in your area ripen. Here is one recipe you can try.
- Mulberry cobbler: Think crisp cobbler dotted with whipped cream or a small scoop of ice cream. Mulberries make a tasty cobbler and here is a recipe you can try
- Cereal and yogurt: Sprinkle fresh mulberries on your cereal or yogurt.
- Biscuits: Like strawberry shortcake, but with a sweet and tart flavor, buy some biscuits, sprinkle some mulberries over them, and top with whipped cream for a yummy snack or dessert.
- Jam: For a delicious alternative to other fruit jams, use mulberries instead. Here is a mulberry jam recipe you can try:
- Pancakes: Do you like blueberry pancakes? Try mulberry pancakes instead. Here’s a recipe for mulberry pancakes.
- Ice pops: Since the peak season for mulberries is summer, try freezing some for a refreshing treat on hot days.
- Ice cream: Are you an ice cream aficionado? How about some mulberry ice cream? Try this one on for size
- Smoothie: Do you love your smoothies? Try adding mulberries for a delicious, nutritious alternative to your usual mixture.
- Granola: Dry your mulberries and add them to your favorite granola mix. Or try making your own
- Mulberry muffins: Another variation on the theme of your favorite fruit muffins, check out this recipe
- Salad: Another summer favorite is a crisp, fresh salad. Just think how delicious it would be topped with fresh mulberries!
And Finally, What to Do with Mulberries, Answered
Are you surprised at what a treasure trove of taste and nutritional value mulberries are? Hiding in secret, they are now emerging from the shadows for their taste, health benefits, versatility, and ultimate value.