Mulberry is 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…so are mulberries edible? I hope to convince you that mulberries are not only worth the effort to harvest, but that they have nutritional benefits as well! Let me teach you how to find and use mulberries!
Can You Eat Mulberries? What Do Mulberries Taste Like? What Parts Can Be Used?
Mulberries mature in the late Spring/early Summer and have been used for centuries!
Mulberries are sweet and juicy, making them a wonderful snack straight off the tree!
The berries and the leaves can both be used.
Where Can Mulberry Trees Be Found?
Mulberry trees, both white and red mulberries, can be found in most of the eastern United States, and are very common in urban and suburban areas.
One difference between white and red mulberries is what type of environment you are likely to find them in.
White mulberry prefers full-sun, while red mulberries tend to grow along the edges of woods and where the ground is moist.
Mulberry Tree Identification
You will also find that the mulberry tree can have three different leaves on the same tree.
I can’t emphasize enough 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.
How are Mulberries Harvested?
The fruit of the mulberry tree, also known as a “drupe”, is sweet and flavorful during it’s peak time of summer.
Mulberries are extremely soft, and so it stands to reason that they would be difficult to ship. This is the reason you will likely never see mulberry at the grocery store.
When you begin to see mulberries, or dark purple spots on the ground around a mulberry tree, it is time to harvest them, before the birds do!
It’s best to harvest them and then deal with them immediately, because they begin to lose their integrity quickly.
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.
Gently lift the corners of your sheet and allow berries to roll to center.
Move sheet to another location under the tree and do the same thing. You’ll be surprised at how many berries you can harvest from just one tree!
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!
Ways to Use Mulberry
Mulberry Health Benefits
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!
Fresh Mulberries Leaves Health Benefits
Mulberry leaves contain an impressive amount of zinc, calcium, iron and antioxidants.
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!