Find the high cost of so-called “superfoods” frustrating? Get your superfood FREE by foraging some of the healthiest foods around! Read on to learn about how to forage mulberries plus tantalizing mulberry recipes.
Why 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, found recipes using our abundant wild violets, and created a truly delicious anti-inflammatory smoothie using a 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 pasttime. 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 are a great summer fruit to forage!
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.
Related: Fruit flies in the kitchen? Try this easy Homemade Fruit Fly Trap
Here’s more info on the health benefits of mulberries if you’re interested, but we’re mostly talking about them because they’re yummy and fun 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.
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.
They 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. 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.
How to Use Mulberries + Mulberry Recipes
- Eat fresh, with other mixed berries or in fruit salad
- Top your oatmeal, overnight oats, or chia pudding with them
- Bake 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