At the time of writing, I am fortunate to share my current home with one small, but earnestly prolific, black mulberry tree (Morus nigra), and one large, equally productive, white mulberry (M. alba). The harvest this year, as it does every year that we have been here, has brought much gustatory joy. Seemingly, nothing more than the gentle caress of a lower branch seems to bring an untold delight to the tree itself, and in response it drops it’s fat, deep purple jewels as easily as rain drops bursting from an overburdened sky. Our hands and fingers stained in this royal hue eagerly scramble to gather as many of the juicy morsels as we can. Accompanied by the heady scent of a nearby Jasmine in full bloom, this frenzy of foraged delight is one of the highlights of our Spring.
While the white mulberry is best known as a food for silk worms, and perhaps more recently as a superfood, the Mulberry tree (species interchangeable) also nourishes and heals humans with both it’s leaves and it’s succulent fruit, it’s root bark ad twigs. From a medicinal perspective we find the following*;
The leaf – anti-bacterial (against gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria including diphtheria and ‘Golden Staph’ infections), anti-microbial, astringent/styptic (stops bleeding and weeping in wounds and mucosa). It appears to have an affinity for conditions that are hot, dry, and painful in nature, such as with coughs, colds, and sore dry eyes. The leaf has also been shown to possess blood-sugar lowering, as well as blood pressure lowering, anti-thrombotic, and general anti-inflammatory actions – perhaps due to it’s astringency as well as high anti-oxidant properties.
The root bark – also has expectorant (lubricates the lungs and stimulates elimination of excess mucous) properties, as well as lowering blood pressure, and having some general sedative properties. The twig is also pain-relieving and anti-spasmodic in action.
The fruit – it’s crowning jewel, is rich in anti-oxidant polyphenols such as resveratrol (anti-aging!), as well as vitamins C, E, and K, beta-carotene and the B complex. It is also a highly mineralised fruit. It is a useful low glycaemic fruit, so won’t spike blood sugar levels in diabetics, and helps to reverse atherosclerosis. It also assists in bowel regularity.
I often add the fresh leaves to a foraged green smoothie, but they, along with the young twigs and root bark can be made into infusion or tincture to take advantage of the medicinal properties.
My focus for this article however, is what we can do with those delicious fruits.
This year I decided to make Mulberry Pie, raw vegan style.
1 cup raw walnuts
1 cup dates – pitted
2 heaped tsp cacao or carob powder
1tbs coconut flour
1 vanilla bean, or ½ tsp vanilla bean powder.
1 cup of fresh black mulberries (I also threw in some white mulberries simply because I had a glut, and it adds sweetness)
1 cup fresh dates – pitted
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp pure maple syrup
1 cup prepared Irish moss paste or 2 cups prepared agar agar**
In a food processor with the S blade fitted, process the crust ingredients until crumbly, then press into a lined and oiled 9″ flan, or springform cake tin (line with baking paper and oil the sides with coconut oil- it makes it easier to remove when done), place in the fridge to set a bit while preparing the filling.
To prepare the filling, gently wash and de-stem the mulberries. Add the de-stemmed mulberries, the lemon juice and the maple syrup to a high-speed blender and blend until pureed. Start the blender on a slower setting and work up as you scrape the sides down and then blend until a puree is formed. This also prevents overheating. Once pureed, add the pitted, and chopped fresh dates and blend until incorporated into the smooth mulberry puree. Now add the prepared Irish moss paste or still-liquid agar agar, and blend again. Pour into your pre-made crust and place into the fridge to set. This usually only takes an hour or so.
Once set, remove from tin, plate up and decorate however you wish. I find that this mulberry pie pairs extremely well with coconut yoghurt (both taste-wise and synergistic health giving properties). To learn how to make that super simple recipe, check out my Instagram account instagram.com/radiclemichelle
If you have a mulberry near you, consider yourself blessed. Or consider buying a tree. Dwarf mulberries that are suitable for pots are now available for people who live in small or temporary spaces.
** Irish moss (Chondus crispus) is a raw, fresh dried seaweed that can be bought from online suppliers. It has been used since ancient times for it’s soothing properties, of particular use in respiratory conditions. It is also used a vegetarian gelling agent, as when gently cleaned, soaked overnight, rinsed, and then blended with good water to form a smooth paste it forms a gel that can be used in various food preparations. Like many botanicals from land and sea, commercial food and pharmaceutical industry has isolated and extracted the active chemical compound known as carrageenan responsible for this thickening property. And like constituents from other other plant foods and medicines used in isolation, it has been known to cause problems. We know that empirical evidence often shows more logic than reductionist science, and that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, so we use the whole plant as a safe form of food and medicine. Agar agar is also a sea vegetable used for it’s gelling properties in food, and can be found online or in healthful stores. It can be bought in powdered or flaked form. I find the powdered form easier to work with. And whereas Irish Moss can be used raw, agar agar must be mixed with boiling water, simmered briefly and then gently cooled to allow it’s gelling properties to fully work. For a good consistency that isn’t too soft or too firm, I use 2-3g of powder to 2 cups of water. Irish moss can be added to recipes in it’s paste form, whereas I find that agar agar must still be added in a slightly cooled (but still warm) liquid form, or else the end result with agar agar becomes a bit clumpy.
Herbal Roots eZine written & illustrated by Kristine Brown- a great resource for kids and beginning enthusiasts of herbal medicine. available as an online subscription from herbalrootszine.com
Irish Moss (includes instructions) can be bought from;