I remember, one summer after we bought the farm (ha!), looking quizzically at a tall, leafy tree laden with fruit and wondering what in the world it was. A berry tree? And one where the berries seemingly grow right out of the branches? Will wonders never cease? I discovered that it was a mulberry, and that those berries are very much edible!
During the years that have since passed, more mulberry trees have sprung up (thanks to the birds, no doubt – there is purple poo everywhere during mulberry season).
It takes a mulberry 3-5 years before it bears fruit, and this year, several new trees have produced delicious berries. One, on the side of the barn, produces berries that look similar to a loganberry, but much darker. These berries are juicy and sweet, with just a hint of tartness. I’ve found myself – more than once – eating those ripe berries right from the tree.
And you know you’ve been picking mulberries by the stains they leave on your hands – fortunately, that dramatic color fades quickly with washing. I make an effort to wear dark-colored clothing while picking berries, too, because they can come raining down on you as you stand beneath the tree.
With such an abundance of mulberries, of course they make their way into water kefir. I simply wash the berries (thoroughly), smash in a measuring cup, spoon the mash into the finished water kefir first ferment, and stir.
After 24 hours, the berry pulp is strained out, and the water kefir goes into (pressure-safe) flip-top bottles for refrigeration. The finished beverage is ruby-colored, sweet, and distinctively berry forward. The natural sugar content of the berries makes this a very sparkling live beverage that’s amazingly refreshing on hot days.
And, while mulberries’ delectableness is reason enough to eat them, they’re also packed with vitamins and minerals and antioxidants. Mulberries have also been shown to have beneficial effects on cholesterol, blood sugar, and oxidative stress (related to cancer risk) levels. Read more about the health benefits of mulberries here.