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Mulberries are the under-dog of foraged berries. They fall on sidewalks and cars, only to make unappreciated purple stains. Many people remain convinced that they are poisonous. However, I hope to convince you that mulberries are not only worth the effort to harvest, but that they are a nutritional powerhouse as well! Let me teach you how to forage and use mulberries!
Mulberries mature in the Spring and have been used for centuries! The berries and the leaves can both be used. The mulberry tree has three distinctly different leaves, much like the sassafras tree. There are three kinds of berries: dark purple, red and white. They are just about everywhere in the Eastern part of the US….parks, city lots, school yards, you name it!
Mulberries are extremely soft, and so it stands to reason that they would be difficult to ship. It’s best to harvest them and then deal with them immediately, because they begin to lose their integrity quickly.
I can’t emphasize the importance of a few good field guides for your part of the country when you’re foraging. Double check your sources and make sure you know what you’re picking! Once you get the hang of what grows in your area, this won’t seem so difficult. Always look at the bark, leaves, leaf formation and any fruit as you identify.
The best way to harvest mulberries is to get a tarp or an old sheet and lay beneath the tree. ALWAYS wear an old shirt that you don’t care about, because you WILL be plummeted with berries that stain!
Then, using a rake, hook onto one of the branches. Look down and hold on tight as you gently shake the branches. The ones that are ripe will fall immediately. If they don’t fall right away, they aren’t ripe.
Harvest season goes on for several weeks, and new berries ripen every few days. We’ve got quite a few mulberry trees on our property, so we harvest a ton of them!
How Can You Use Mulberries?
Mulberries can be substituted for (or combined with) just any other type of berry! Frankly, besides eating them while harvesting, I really enjoy them on cereal or oatmeal! We also freeze as many as we can and use them in smoothies all year round! They also dehydrate well!
What about the leaves?
Mulberry leaves contain an impressive amount of zinc, calcium, iron and antioxidants. Simply dehydrate the leaves and you have a lovely tea!
Drinking mulberry leaf tea has many benefits, studies show that it can help reduce cholesterol, reduce inflammation in the body, reduce blood sugar, contain appetite as well as reduce cold and flu symptoms! (source)
Don’t let Spring slip by without looking for some mulberries!
Want to learn about how to forage for dandelion as well?