Magnificent Mulberries

Posted June 18, 2024

“All around the mulberry bush,” an old nursery rhyme, has it wrong. Mulberries grow on trees, not shrubs. And boy, do they grow! The trees grow rapidly and, when the season rolls around, a prodigious amounts of fruit. The season is short – late spring through summer - and the berries are very fragile. They aren’t the kind of berries you’ll find in the grocery store because of this.

Most mulberries are made into jam, dried for trail mix, or brewed into mulberry wine, a very old traditional beverage. As with most berries, they can be made into cobblers, sauces, ice cream, muffins, loaf bread, or any number of desserts and salads. They look like 2-inch-long blackberries with the seeds on the outside of the fruit, and are usually dark purple, but sometimes white or red. They range in flavor from very sweet to sweet-tart.

Very Mulberry at Habitera Farms, a farmers’ market participant from Brentwood, grows mulberries for several markets. Their pesticide-free “Himalayan” mulberries are considered one of the most delicious and nutrient-dense berries. “It’s a berry that people absolutely fall in love with,” says Anil Godhwani, who partners with his brother Gautam and friend Smita Sadana. Their farm has taken off successfully because of the unique and delicious berries they grow.

Here are some fun facts about mulberries:

  • Mulberry leaves are the primary source of food for silkworms. The tree was introduced to America from China, when the US decided to make their own silk.
  • They symbolize wealth and prosperity in many countries. In folklore, they’re associated with love and protection.
  • “Here We Go ‘Round the Mulberry Bush” was first recorded in Britain in the 1800s, used as a way to get children to lead clean and respectable lives. 
  • Mulberries grow on deciduous trees, whereas blackberries grow on prickly shrubs. The trees are messy and not recommended for general backyard landscaping.

When purchasing mulberries, look for firm berries with no mold or shriveling. After purchase, use or eat them quickly. They won’t last longer than a few days in the refrigerator. Don’t wash before storing them. Leftover berries can be frozen or dried as well. 

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