The mulberry tree is one of the oldest and most valuable plants known to man. This ancient tree has been praised for its edible fruit, medicinal uses, and ability to provide shelter and shade. Its popularity has even been so remarkable that it has been included in some of the oldest texts including the Bible. Mulberries are also well known as an ornamental tree, providing a unique and beautiful look to gardens or backyards. In this article, we will explore what a mulberry tree is, its different varieties, its uses, and finally how to grow and care for one right in your own backyard.
A mulberry tree is a deciduous plant native to most regions of the world. It can be found in the United States, Europe, Asia, and even Africa. The tree is known by several names including white mulberry, black mulberry, and silkworm mulberry. It has an average life span between 15 to 20 years and can reach heights of up to 60 feet and widths of up to 50 feet. The tree is usually comprised of several trunks with a spread of leafy branches.
Mulberries come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors depending on the type. There are three main varieties of mulberries: the whiteberry, the redberry, and the blackberry. Whiteberries have white flesh and have a mild and sweet flavor. Redberries are the common variety found in stores and have a tart, yet sweet taste when ripe. They are usually a bit smaller than whiteberries. Blackberries are the darkest variety, having a tangy taste and very sweet when ripe.
Mulberries have been used medicinally and as food for many centuries. The fruits can be eaten fresh or dried and used as a nutritious snack. They are very high in vitamin C, calcium, and dietary fiber. The leaves, stems, and bark are also used in various forms such as infusions, tinctures, and poultices. These can help treat digestive issues, colds, and flu-like symptoms.
Mulberries are also admired for their aesthetic value. The tree's long, light purple flowers are quite stunning and can be used as decorative centerpieces in gardens or backyards. The fruit is often mixed into salads, smoothies, desserts, and jams and jellies.
Growing and caring for your own mulberry tree is a great option for those looking to reap the many benefits of this ancient tree. The first step is to choose the variety you want to plant and then find a sunny location with well-draining soil, preferably at least eight hours of direct sunlight. Mulberries should be planted in early spring, about two feet deep, to ensure optimal growth and health.
Once planted, you'll need to prune your tree a few times a year to remove any dead or diseased branches and encourage growth. Water on a regular basis; mulberries need 1-2 inches of water every week. Mulch around the base to help keep out weeds and hold in moisture. Since they're a bit susceptible to pests, keep an eye out for any signs of pests, disease, or nutrient deficiency and take action promptly.
Mulberries are an incredible, centuries-old tree with a variety of uses and benefits. Whether you're looking to add some color to your garden, have a nutritious snack, or use them medicinally, mulberries are an excellent plant to have around. Not only are they easy to grow, but they are also hardy and long-lived. With just a little bit of care, you can enjoy them in all of their beauty and bounty.
Mulberries are considered a tasty, sweet, and luxurious treat, and they are enjoyed in many dishes around the world. They are often used to garnish salads, and they can be used as ingredients in jams and pies. But despite popular belief, creating this delicious little treat and getting them to the dinner plate takes more than simply plucking the berries from a tree. Understanding the journey a mulberry takes to your plate starts by taking a look at the life cycle of the mulberry tree and its environment.
The Life Cycle of a Mulberry Tree
Mulberry trees, also known as Morus alba, are deciduous trees native to Asia and North America. They are fast-growing and typically reach a height of around 20-50 feet. A mature mulberry tree has a prominent trunk and branches with drooping twigs tipped with glossy, dark green leaves and long, 1 to 2 inch-long pendulous fruits that range in color from pink-purple to red-black.
This type of tree is self-pollinated and normally starts producing fruits once it reaches the age of three or four. Primarily, the tree attracts bees and other insects for pollination and relies on the wind for spreading the pollen, a process which is known as anemophily. In most cases, the male and female reproductive parts of the plant must become united by the pollen which is then brought by the insects or wind. The resulting fruits are known as drupes, which are categorized as true fruits because the ovary wall of the flower is converted into a hard skin and fleshy core part.
Mulberries have a relatively short lifespan, with trees typically living between 30-40 years. Generally, these trees must be well-fertilized and well-watered in their early years to ensure healthy growth, but once they reach maturity they require very little care. Mulberry trees thrive in well-draining and slightly acidic soil, with humidity levels ranging between 50%-60%. It is also important that the location of the trees gets enough sunlight and air flow, and receives at least 40 inches of rain per year.
Harvesting of the Mulberries
Mulberries are usually harvested in the summer months when the berries are ripe, that is generally when they are 5-7 cm in size. It is important to pick the berries at the right time because unripe mulberries are bitter and texturally unappetizing. To identify ripe mulberries, look for berries that are slightly soft, somewhat glossy and deep purple to black in color. It’s also important to be sure to pick only organically grown mulberries because conventional growing of the berries can contain high levels of pesticide residue.
Once the mulberries are picked, they should ideally be washed, cooled, and placed in plastic containers for transport. Washing is important as mulberries bruise easily, so always make sure to gently rinse the berries in cold water before packing them for transportation. Due to their delicate nature and short shelf life, mulberries must be transported quickly, and should arrive at their destination within one or two days of being picked.
Processing of Mulberries
Once the mulberries arrive at their destination, the next step is processing them. Depending on the end product, mulberries can be processed in a variety of ways. They can be canned, frozen, dried, juiced, or pureed.
Canned mulberries are one of the most popular end products, and typically involve the berries being peeled and packed in syrup or water to preserve the berries’ original shape and flavor. After being put into cans, the berries are cooked in sugar syrup and pasteurized to kill any bacteria. This is done by heating the canned berries to a temperature of above 75°C for about 30 minutes.
Frozen mulberries are another popular product, and involve the berries being cleaned, frozen, and packaged. This process preserves the natural taste and color of mulberries, but it can be somewhat time consuming and requires more specialized equipment.
Dried mulberries are yet another type of product, and require the berries to be deseeded, washed, and placed in an oven. The oven is set to a low temperature to ensure that the natural flavor and color of the berries remain intact during the drying process. The dried berries are then stored in airtight containers to ensure long-term preservation.
The next type of product is juice, and typically involves the berries being crushed and pressed to extract the juices. This can involve either a mechanical or natural process, with natural resting typically yielding higher quality and purer juices. The extracted juices are then filtered and, depending on individual preference, can be either pasteurized or bottled fresh.
Finally, pureed mulberries are another popular product and are typically achieved either by removing the seeds and skin of the berries, blending them, and adding some kind of liquid, or the berries being boiled and then blended. Depending on the desired texture, the blended mixture can then be sieved or left as is.
The Journey to the Dinner Plate
Once mulberries have been processed, they can then make their way to the dinner table in a variety of ways.
Fresh mulberries can be added to salads, smoothies, and a variety of other dishes, while processed mulberries can be found in stores all year round. Canned or frozen mulberries are typically used in baking and jams, while dried mulberries are often included in trail mixes, granolas, and other snacks. Juices, syrups, and purees are commonly added to various beverages, sweets, and even soups.
No matter the end product, by the time mulberries make their way to the dinner plate, they will have gone through a lot. From surviving the hot summers in the nurseries and being picked, to the processing and packaging in factories, the journey to the table is often long and complex. However, it’s worth it for the delicious and nutritious treats these luscious berries bring to our plates.
|Vitamin A||0.001 mg|
|Vitamin E||0.87 mg|
|Vitamin K||0.0078 mg|
|Vitamin C||0.0364 grams|
|Vitamin B1||0.03 mg|
|Vitamin B2||0.1 mg|
|Vitamin B3||0.62 mg|
|Vitamin B4||0.0123 grams|
|Vitamin B6||0.05 mg|
|Vitamin B9||0.006 mg|
Daily Value 1.3 g
Daily Value 0.018 g
Daily Value 0.4 g
Daily Value 1.25 g
Daily Value 4.7 g
Daily Value 2.3 g
Daily Value 0.011 g
Daily Value 0.9 mg
Daily Value 0.055 mg
|Total Sugars||0.131141 grams||
|Palmitic acid (16:0)||0.01 grams||
|Stearic acid (18:0)||0.02 grams||
|Total Saturated fatty acids:||0.03 g|
|Oleic acid (18:1)||0.04 grams||
|Total Monounsaturated fatty acids:||0.04 g|
|Linoleic acid (18:2)||0.21 grams||
|Total Polyunsaturated fatty acids:||0.21 g|