Move over blackberries! Mulberries are in town and they are begging for a picking. Mulberry - also known as Morus fruit - comes from the same tree used to raise silkworms, where the worms feed off the plant's leaves. The fruit, similar to blackberry, is an aggregate fruit that is composed of many smaller fruits called drupes. So, botanically-speaking, it's not a berry... but otherwise, it is. The skin is smooth and fragile, and the color changes from green to red to dark purple as it matures and ripens. There are also white mulberry varieties that exist (the ones used for silkworms). Mulberries have a stem attached once picked from the tree, distinguishing them from blackberries and raspberries. One plus to mulberry picking: No thorns!
If mulberry picking isn't for you, keep your eyes peeled at your local farmers market and maybe even grocery stores when this fruit is in season... although they are a rare sighting in fresh form owing to their delicate nature. Look for fleshy berries that feel heavy in your hands. Avoid bruised, bleeding and sunken berries. Because mulberries are extremely fragile, use them as soon as you can. They'll last a few days at most unwashed in your refrigerator. Eat them, cook them, dry them, freeze them - just don't let them spoil.
Before eating your mulberries, wash them in cold water in a bowl, swishing around to loosen any particles. Dry them with a soft cloth, being careful not to smoosh them. You can trim the ends off of each mulberry by pinching them off with your nails or use a paring knife. There are many ways to cook mulberries once you've eaten your fill of the fresh ones. You can dry them and add to your favorite trail mix for a delicious addition - a little crunchy and a little sweet. Make mulberry pies and mulberry muffins or mulberry wine. Anything you do with other berries, you can do with mulberries. Lemon or lime bjuice does a fabulous job of enhancing the mulberry's flavor.
Like all our favorite berries, succulent mulberries are a rich source of many health promoting compounds, minerals and vitamins that are essential for optimum health. They shine with phenolic flavonoid phytonutrients called anthocyanins that have been found to fight against cancer, heart disease, aging and neurological diseases, inflammation, diabetes and bacterial infections... among other things! Mulberries are also high is vitamins C, A and E which make 'em immunity all stars and antioxidant gods. Goodbye free radicals!
When it comes to dried fruits, those that are commercially-grown are not only cultivated through the use of pesticides, but commonly undergo a treatment with sulfur dioxide gas during processing and employ sulfites to extend their shelf life. To minimize your exposure to all of these unnecessary and harmful additives - purchase your dried mulberries organic!