Mulberries are not only delicious but they have many other health benefits too! They contain antioxidants which protect your body from free radicals and cancer cells. These antioxidants may reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure and even Alzheimer’s Disease. Also these fruits provide good amounts of fiber, vitamins A and C. You can eat them raw or cooked with butter or margarine. You can use them in salads, sandwiches, soups and stews. If you like to make them yourself, here are some tips on how to do it easily.
What is Mulberry?
The name “mulberry” comes from the Latin word mulgere meaning “to grow”. The berries of the mulberry tree (Rubus idaeus) are native to Europe and Asia Minor. They were introduced into North America in 1670 by Sir Walter Raleigh. The name “mulberry” was given to the species by English botanist John Everard who described its edible fruit in 1755.
How Much Do They Cost?
There are different types of mulberries available. There are two kinds of mulberries called red and white. Red mulberry contains less sugar than white mulberry, so it is used for cooking purposes instead of making jam or jellies. The red mulberry tree can grow to a height of 8 to 30 feet and it is usually smaller than the white mulberry tree, which grows to a height of 15 to 40 feet. The red and white mulberry tree both produce fruit in mid-summer and sometimes into autumn.
They are available in almost all the grocery stores nationwide, if you live in the United States. One pound of fresh organic mulberries will cost about five dollars.
History and Health Benefits
In North America, Native American tribes such as the Choctaw and Chickasaw would gather these berries, and process them into a syrup. The Iroquois Confederacy encouraged their people to plant mulberry trees in the 1600s for feeding the silkworms they were trying to breed.
The French explorer Jean Nicolet is credited with introducing the first silkworms into North America in Wisconsin in 1658.
Where Are They Grown?
The mulberries that are grown in the United States are mostly grown in California. The most common types of mulberry grown there are the White Morus Alba and Red Morus Rubra.
Mulberries can also be found in many other states as well such as Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Utah.
How Are They Grown?
Mulberries are usually grown by planting a cutting of the root or grafting a branch with roots from another tree. The trees are usually planted in an area that receives full sun and has well-drained soil. They are tolerant of a wide range of soils, but they do need at least 1.5 meters of water per year. Because they are shallow-rooted plants, mulberry trees should not be planted in areas that are prone to flooding.
How Long Does It Take To Bear Fruits?
After planting, it takes about five to eight years before the trees start bearing fruits. The life span of a mulberry tree is about 30 to 40 years.
Many places in the United States such as California and New York usually have a two-week window for harvesting the mulberries each year. Each tree can produce up to 2.5 kilograms of fruit.
Uses and Preparation
One of the most popular uses for mulberries is in making wine. It has a sweet flavor, and when mixed with other berries such as blackberries, it makes a delicious combination of wine.
The berries can also be eaten raw or used to make jam or jellies. They can be found dried and packaged in a variety of stores.
Dried mulberries can be eaten as a snack or used as a sweetener in recipes.
The leaves and branches of the fruit tree are not edible.
Nutritional Value and Health Benefits
Mulberries are very high in antioxidants such as flavonoids and polyphenols. These antioxidants are what give the berries their rich, deep purple color.
Antioxidants help to prevent cell damage that can cause cancer and other diseases.
Mulberries also contain B-complex vitamins, vitamin C, dietary fiber and a small amount of protein.
More Facts About the Mulberry Fruit Tree
The name “mulberry” comes from the Middle English word morel and Old English mora, which means “dark looking.”
The texture of the berries can be compared to that of a raspberry. The color of the skin when picked can range from white to purple.
Mulberries were used as ball bearings in the first modern ball point pens.
In Korea, mulberries are distilled to make a liquor called mulberry soju.
In North America, the mulberry tree was planted by Native Americans along border lines of their tribal territories. The Native Americans then used the berries for food.
The silk from which silkworms feed is actually obtained from the sticky leaves of the white mulberry tree and not the fruit itself.
American pioneers made pemmican out of dried and ground buffalo meat mixed with melted fat and then packed in animal organs. The pemmican would be stored in these organs and the tops tied shut with a mulberry leaf to keep the meat fresh.
The ancient Greeks believed that the tree was sacred to Dionysus, the god of wine, agriculture and fertility.
In some countries, the branches of the mulberry tree are laid across hut roofs to keep them watertight.
The mulberry tree is an invasive species in Florida, where it chokes out other native plant species and causes deforestation. It can only be legally bought and sold in Florida if it has a tag on it.
The silkworm is not a worm at all, but rather the caterpillar of the moth Bombyx mori.
In Japan, the mulberry is called momo. It is the national tree of Osaka and the city’s official flower is the sasanqua rose, which is also known as the “momo no hana” or “mulberry flowers.”
In Korea, a special silk called mulberry silk or ramie is made from the fibers of the ramie plant.
The mulberry fruits resemble the bodies of tiny merpeople, which inspired the term “mulberry man” to describe a shaman who could summon spirits underwater.
In the ancient Roman Catholic Church, priests would wear a mulberry colored robe also sometimes called a “mullus.”
Both Jesus and Muhammad are said to have worn white mulberry robes.
The mulberry is the national tree of Korea.
The oldest living tree in the world may be a 5,000-year-old giant mulberry located in China. It is named the “Dorasilla” tree.
Sources & references used in this article:
The Mulberry (Morus alba L.) FruitA Review of Characteristic Components and Health Benefits by Q Yuan, L Zhao – Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2017 – ACS Publications
Polyphenols of mulberry fruits as multifaceted compounds: Compositions, metabolism, health benefits, and stability—A structural review by I Khalifa, W Zhu, K Li, C Li – Journal of functional foods, 2018 – Elsevier
Phytochemical evaluation of white (Morus alba L.) and black (Morus nigra L.) mulberry fruits, a starting point for the assessment of their beneficial properties by EM Sánchez-Salcedo, P Mena, C García-Viguera… – Journal of functional …, 2015 – Elsevier
An extract of black, green, and mulberry teas causes malabsorption of carbohydrate but not of triacylglycerol in healthy volunteers by L Zhong, JK Furne, MD Levitt – … journal of clinical nutrition, 2006 – academic.oup.com
Quick Fix: Mulberries For High Cholesterol by J D’Souza – zliving.com
Dietary supplementation with purified mulberry (Morus australis Poir) anthocyanins suppresses body weight gain in high-fat diet fed C57BL/6 mice by T Wu, X Qi, Y Liu, J Guo, R Zhu, W Chen, X Zheng… – Food chemistry, 2013 – Elsevier