We have mulberries! Yes, wonderful mulberries! I'm not talking about the wild mulberry trees in our lower pasture, under which Larry has often stopped the tractor, while mowing, to eat his fill. Then he comes home with stains on the seat of his pants, where the berries have fallen on the tractor seat! These mulberries are from two trees we purchased a few years ago from Stark Bro's Nurseries and Orchards Co. The fruit is dark purple, up to 1 1/2 inches long, extra sweet, and delicious. The trees were also advertised as a good way to lure squirrels and birds away from your gardens.
An advantage of mulberries is that the fruit grows in clusters called drupes, and then individually ripen from mid June through August. This allows us to pick the ripe ones about every other day, or as often as we wish. I have been adding them to our smoothies, and they are as good as the strawberries, raspberries, or blackberries that we usually use. I also freeze them in two cup quantities for future use.
Mulberries are a snap to process. All you need to do is wash them. I always let berries soak in water with a tad of vinegar for a few minutes to kill germs and make any little bugs turn loose, but it isn't necessary. Larry eats the short stem along with the berry, and the Vitamix turns them into part of our smoothies. Otherwise, you could snip them off with scissors.
The sweet flavor is not the only good part. I looked up mulberries' nutritional value and discovered by eating a serving, we could skip our multi-vitamin for the day. They are also an antioxidant powerhouse. One serving has more vitamin C than an orange!
I'll not bore you with a nutritional chart that is long and full of wonderful things, but I do want to mention zea-xanthin, which helps protect against macular degeneration and cataracts, and reservatrol, that important discovery found in grapes and wine. Mulberries also contain compounds that support balanced blood sugar levels, reduce risk of blood clot formation, and relax the blood vessels.
Maybe you should call up Stark Bro's and order a mulberry tree to plant this fall! They are self-pollinating, in case you only have room for one. Our trees are disease free and very beautiful. Yes, you really should order one or two, and BTW, wear disposable gloves when picking and processing the berries, or the stains around your nails will last for days.
Trivia: Mulberry trees' large, shiny leaves are fed to silk worms.
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