Saturday, June 20, 2009

Red Mulberry

The Mulberry's are ripening quickly, and I've already sampled a few. Soon it will be time to pick them for cobbler.
The Red Mulberry (Morus rubra) is native to the Eastern United States. They are common here in Northwest Missouri, and all too often can become invasive. I know of many people that pull the young saplings as soon as they are found. Often I hear people groan about how birds eat the berries then proceed to evacuate all over sidewalks, cars, laundry hanging on clothes lines and anywhere else you would not want to find bird feces tainted with a lovely shade of purple. This purple color will stain most anything it comes in contact with. Even your hands as you pick them from the tree. I fear I am one of a minority that happens to love Mulberry's. The shape of the tree is pleasing to the eye, the plump ripe berries are beautiful to look at, and even better to eat. With a mild sweet/ slightly sour taste they are true treat once the summer temperatures begin to rise. I will even share the bounty with our chickens, who absolutely love them. It creates a feeding frenzy as I throw berries into their outdoor enclosure.
In Canada this species is endangered which is so hard for me to comprehend when I look out in my backyard and I have several mature trees all producing berries, as well as tons of them coming up voluntarily throughout all my flower beds, which I have to pull or cut them out. In many areas where Red Mulberry trees and White Mulberry trees both exist they will cross pollinate and create a hybrid. The White Mulberry is native to China and was brought to the United States to culture Silkworms. They naturally cross pollinated and now are threatening the native Red Mulberry in much of it's range. Mulberry's are wind pollinated and therefore do not need insects or other trees close by for pollination. Do you have allergies? If so, and some days seem worse than others perhaps Mulberry's are the culprit. My husband suffers from allergies and through the process of elimination we discovered Mulberry's were the likely reason for some of his bad days.
Mulberry's have been used throughout history for its medicinal properties. The juice is used as a gargle for the relief of sore throats. The juice can also be used as a laxative. The bark was used to expel tapeworms. In our modern times the berries are used as a coloring and flavoring agent in medicines.
Try them in recipes, they are easily substituted for Blackberries or you can try this recipe which I find to be quite tasty.

Mulberry Cobbler

1 quart Ripe Mulberries*
1 cup white sugar
1 cup sifted flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick melted margarine
3/4 cup milk

Preparation: Mix all of the above ingredients by hand. Heat about 1 quart of mulberries (sweetened to taste) on the stove but be careful not to scorch them. Pour half of the batter into a greased 8 x 8 or 9 x 9 baking dish. Add fruit, then pour the remaining batter over the fruit. Bake in a preheated, 400 degree oven for 40 minutes or until brown.

*Be sure that your Mulberries are very ripe or they will have an acid taste.

All-in-all I love Mulberry trees and happily take the good with the bad. I do not mind sharing them with birds, and even putting up with the colored leavings on my sidewalks isn't too bothersome. To be able to go outside in my yard on a warm summer evening and pick berries off the tree and enjoy the sweet taste as the berry pops in my mouth releasing all those tasty juices is a treat indeed. Mulberry's and Summer go hand in hand!

1 comment:

  1. My lab & I just discovered a bunch of mature Mulberry trees by our creekbed.Not familar w/them I tossed some to Logan, who gobbled them w/out hesitation. I was quick to follow! The next day I put down a sheet under the tree,took a rake and shaked like no tomorrow. I have a large container of cleaned, chilled berries in the refrig. Yummy. My husband is also a new fan! I read the vitamin & antioxident benefits this berry offers and it is very healthy. EVERYONE should include them in there food intake!