Last Updated on September 24, 2021
Are mulberries edible? If you’ve spied some juicy-looking berries in a neighborhood tree and wondered to yourself, “Can you eat mulberries?” you’ll be thrilled to learn that mulberries are not only edible, they’re delicious in loads of mulberry recipes. They’re good for you, too!
If you find the high cost of so-called “superfoods” frustrating, you’ll love getting your superfood FREE by foraging mulberries! Read on to learn about how to forage mulberries, the impressive health benefits of mulberries, as well as tantalizing recipes with mulberries.
Can You Eat Mulberries? Why to Forage Mulberries
If you’ve read a bit on this blog, you might have noticed I’m a little obsessed with ways to find *free* healthy foods in unexpected places.
That’s why I’ve studied up on making the most of my edible weeds, learned to make spruce tea in winter and harvest spruce tips in spring, discovered numerous uses for dandelions, found recipes using our abundant wild violets, and created a truly delicious anti-inflammatory smoothie using a superfood/weed called purslane. I also harvest yarrow and plantain for medicinal uses.
(That’s just the stuff I didn’t plant! I have loads more perennial food growing to harvest all season long. Here’s how I grow a ton of food in a small space with minimal work!)
Foraging for fruit is a favorite midsummer past time. Maybe you’ve gone picking wild blackberries or blueberries, even wild plums, juneberries, and elderberries. You may have noticed something that looked a lot like a blackberry growing on trees in your neighborhood and seen a bunch of purplish stains on the ground where they land. These are mulberries, and they’re a great summer fruit to forage!
Mulberries come in white, light purple, reddish, or deep purple, and each has a slightly different flavor. You can tell when they’re ready by feeling them — unripe fruit will be quite hard, and a berry ready to eat will yield to the touch. If you eat an unripe one, you’ll know by the flavor it needed some more time to sweeten up. It will also be unpleasantly crunchy. The white variety are reported to be sweeter than the black ones we have in my neck of the woods.
Health Benefits of Mulberries
Like other deep purple berries, mulberries are a terrific source of anthocyanins and resveratrol, some of the anti-inflammatory compounds that help fight free radical damage and prevent cancer. Like blueberries and blackberries, they’re a good source of vitamins and fiber and are relatively low in calories and sugar compared to many other fruits. Here’s a paper from the Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry if you want to know more about the health benefits of mulberries, but it’s totally fine to just enjoy them because they’re yummy and fun to forage!
Growing or Foraging Mulberries
Most of the growing information online says mulberries grow in zone 5 or warmer, but the black mulberries here in zone 4 are doing just fine, thank you very much. Here’s more on growing your own mulberry trees if you want to plant your own. Growing your own usually isn’t necessary, though, as birds plant mulberry trees all over the place.
Take a walk in your neighborhood or in a public park, and you may well see several trees full of fruit. They’re pretty easy to identify, the only tree that appears to be growing blackberries.
Always consult a good field guide for foragers or enlist a local expert so you know what you’re collecting. While most of these plants are easy to identify, others have non-edible or poisonous look alikes.
Here are some of the best foraging books I’ve found.
Mulberries have a long season, with the first berries ripening in June.
You can pick mulberries by hand, which can be slow going if you have a lot. Ripe ones will come off easily. You can also place a tarp below the branches and give the tree a good shake to collect the ripe mulberries. Make sure to use something you don’t mind getting stained, and probably a good idea to wear clothes you don’t care much about as well!
The stems sometimes come off with the mulberries, but it’s fine to eat them along with the berry. They’re not entirely delicious fresh, but no one will notice if you’re cooking with them.
Mulberries have a thin skin, which means they won’t last long, so gobble ’em up or get cooking with some of the mulberry recipes below. They can sub for blackberries or other berries in a number of recipes, though I find the ones that grow near us less flavorful than blueberries, blackberries or raspberries. Different areas of the country will have different types of mulberry with varying flavors.
Bonus for well-informed foragers: It turns out mulberry leaves are also edible! You can harvest the early leaves for eating as a fresh or cooked green, and the older leaves to make mulberry tree leaf tea, which is not only tasty, but really good for you!
How to Use Mulberries + Mulberry Recipes
- Eat fresh, with other mixed berries or in fruit salad (wild black raspberries are in season at the same time, so gather both and mix ’em in!)
- Top your oatmeal, overnight oats, or chia pudding with them
- Bake mulberries into muffins, scones or quick breads (like these mulberry apple muffins from Reformation Acres)
- Substitute for blueberries in your favorite pancake recipe
- Add to fruit crisps and crumbles (try subbing in mulberries in this lower-sugar recipe from Amy’s Healthy Baking)
- Freeze or dehydrate for smoothies and baking
- Add to purees for homemade fruit leather
- Make mulberry wine! (Recipe from Leaf TV here.)
A lot of mulberry recipes call for more sugar than I tend to recommend, but as long as you’re saving them for a once-in-awhile treat, you could try:
Whole Wheat Peach Mulberry Crumble (The Desserted Girl)
Coconut Flour Mulberry Crisp (Organic Lifestyle)
Mulberry Pie (Reformation Acres)
Mulberry Sorbet (Hunter Angler Gardener Cook)
Mulberry Jam (Serious Eats)
Mulberry Curd (The Cook’s Pyjamas)
Do you have mulberries growing near you? Ever gathered them before? Leave your favorite mulberry recipes in the comments!
Pin to save this foraging info and mulberry recipes for later!
Photo credits: maxpixel, ShenXin, byrev, Elida Cris Fagundes, unicase
Susannah is a proud garden geek and energy nerd who loves healthy food and natural remedies. Her work has appeared in Mother Earth Living, Ensia, Northern Gardener, Sierra, and on numerous websites. Her first book, Everything Elderberry, released in September 2020 and has been a #1 new release in holistic medicine, naturopathy, herb gardening, and other categories. Find out more and grab your copy here.