All over the country, families are (or should be, at least) gorging themselves on a tasty wild fruit: mulberries. This celebrated berry comes from the white or red mulberry tree, and tons of mulberry uses can fit into your summer or fall schedule.
My family has an enormous—and awfully generous—mulberry tree in the backyard, so we’ve had to get creative to make the most of the harvest. You might have your hands full with berries too, or maybe you just want to incorporate something new into your family’s diet. Whatever the case, you certainly have options.
Snacking and Cooking with Mulberries
To incorporate these sweet morsels into your life today, here are mulberry uses and recipes you may not have considered.
- Make jam. You don’t need to be a canning expert to preserve the harvest. Mulberry jam is the perfect way to dabble. Borrow a book from the library and read up on canning techniques before collecting the berries, though—they ripen quickly once off the branch.
- As a healthy snack. This is the most celebrated of all mulberry uses. There’s nothing like popping these puppies straight into your mouth. Plus, they’re healthy, according to the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. Packed with vitamin K, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, folate, and vitamin A, you can eat your fill and know you’re giving your body the good stuff.
- At breakfast. The fat-soluble vitamins mentioned above should be consumed with some healthy fats to be absorbed properly. Enter organic milk, yogurt, and raw nuts that often go into smoothies and breakfast parfaits. When you add mulberries to smoothies, plain yogurt, and parfaits, you know your body is absorbing the nutrients the way it should. Do you want another picture-perfect breakfast option? You can spruce up lackluster oatmeal by tossing in a few mulberries to delight your senses.
- In homemade energy bars. Adding the dried berries to our homemade energy bars is one of the best gastronomic moves I’ve ever made. The kids love it, and the mulberries are free!
- In culinary sauces and chutneys. When you soak dried mulberries, you restore their juicy texture. This is perfect for sweet sauces. If you’re looking for mulberry uses to incorporate into today’s meal, blend a handful of mulberries with ginger, cardamom, and a spritz of lemon. Serve as a paste for bread or a dip for grilled chicken.
- In fruity recipes. Any recipe that calls for raisins or dried cranberries will benefit when you swap in dried mulberries. Cooking with mulberries is nothing new to culinary ninjas, but the rest of us might need a little handholding to get started. Again, I recommend a good book that discusses how to incorporate mulberries into dinner recipes. My favorite is Jane Grigson’s Fruit Book.
- As baby food. I’ve been surprised to find my infant loves anything if I simply add a mulberry puree to his mash. Plus, the fruit’s enzymes help his young digestive tract break down other challenging foods like spinach and meat.
These berries even have a place in your wine time at night. While I wouldn’t recommend trying your hand at fermenting the berries yourself, you can find mulberry wine crafted by local artisans in many areas. Mulberry wine is the perfect way to bottle, store, and enjoy mulberries all year long. Try adding these berries to your go-to sangria recipe for a new flavor to try. And if you’re not hungry, mulberries make a cute garnish for an enticing plate.
Add It to Craft Time
If you’ve ever seen mulberries stain the hands and mouths of foraging kids, you know about the pigment’s staying power. Put it to use for you by extracting that colorant and swapping it out for common food color, craft paint, or fabric dye. Here’s how.
Boil three cups of water on the stovetop, and drop in a handful of freshly picked mulberries. Reduce the heat, and allow your berries to simmer for about a half hour. Remove the mixture from the heat, and then it’s time to mash. Carefully strain the fragrant mush, so it doesn’t splash. Once cool, your dye can be used to color tea towels, soak unfinished wood crafts, or color foods like whole grain pancakes and homemade ice cream.
A single tree can drop over twenty million seeds per season, according to the National Park Service. Collect some of those millions of mulberries each season, and make a new use of this prolific product from nature.
Share your ideas and mulberry recipes with us on Twitter by tweeting @TomsofMaine.
Image source: Bethany Johnson
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