What are Mulberries?

Nutrition Benefits and Cooking with Mulberries

Dried mulberries
Dried mulberries. sodapix sodapix / Getty Images

Mulberries actually grow on trees rather than the bush so many children sing about. The trees are fast growing and produce a massive amount of berries each season. There are several colors of mulberries from a deep dark red to white. The white variety is growing in popularity as a superfood sold in health food stores. The leaves of the white mulberry tree are used as food for silkworms.

What are Mulberries?

Mulberries are known botanically as morus, a genus of flowering plants in the family Moraceae, which comprises 10–16 species of deciduous trees commonly known as mulberries, growing in temperate to tropical regions around the world.

The most common types of mulberry are white mulberry, black mulberry, and the American mulberry also known as the red mulberry. The white mulberry is native to China but can be found in each of the 48 contiguous states in America. It grows like a weed and is slowly replacing the native red mulberry tree. The white mulberry tree was introduced into America to support the silkworm industry as it is the only food for silkworms. The red or American mulberry is native to the eastern United States. The black mulberry is native to western Asia and has been grown for its fruits in Europe since before Roman times.

Nutritional Value of Mulberries

Mulberries are actually a good source of raw food protein, a rarity in the fruit kingdom. They are also a good source of magnesium, potassium, riboflavin, iron, calcium, vitamin C, and fiber. One of the mulberry's greatest health assets is its high concentration of resveratrol, an antioxidant currently being studied for its effects on heart health.

An ancient fruit of Asia, the mulberry is touted in medicinal folklore as a remedy for ringworm, insomnia, arthritis, and tapeworm.

Uses for Mulberries in Food

If you live in a warm climate and are lucky enough to have mulberry trees you can enjoy them fresh off the tree. Perfect for raw foodists! This is how they are at their most nutritionally significant as well as delicious.

They do, however, grow in such great abundance that you'll be needing to find other uses for them as they will only keep for a couple days after picking. Common and well-loved uses for mulberries include jam, jellies, freezing for later use, smoothies, pancakes, dessert sauces, cobbler, and mulberry wine.

As for the dried mulberries found in stores, they go great in smoothies, trail mix, oatmeal, granola, and, of course, right out of the bag as a mid-morning or afternoon snack. If you're looking to satisfy your sweet tooth, mulberry pie and even ice cream is a sweet way to use them all up.