Mulberries In The Valley

Photo of wild mulberry tree growing wild in the area. Photo by Elia Vasquez for the Valley Daily Post

Mulberries In The Valley

By George Morse Sports and Outdoors

We’re all familiar with certain fruits from the Espanola Valley like apples, peaches, apricots and cherries. There is another fruit that is widely found growing throughout the Valley that is hardly-utilized and seldom planted on purpose.

Mulberry trees are found throughout the Valley. They are often the result of seedlings which come up all over because birds love mulberries and the seeds are spread in their droppings.

The mulberry tree is widespread throughout the world. There are black, red and white-fruiting varieties. They are cultivated in many areas. One of their most important functions is their leaves and shoots are the primary source of food for the caterpillars of the silkworm moth, from which silk is produced. Mulberries are a staple fruit in the Hunza Valley of Pakistan, where people traditionally live long lives.

Some cities have banned the planting of mulberry trees because their pollen produces allergenic reactions in many people. The main culprit here is the so-called fruitless mulberry. These are all-male trees that produce prodigious amounts of pollen, but no fruit. Fruit-bearing female trees are much less allergenic.

The fruit is rich in Vitamin C and iron, while having a high amount of protein for a fruit. It contains many other beneficial vitamins and minerals. It also contains significant amounts of resveratrol, which is claimed to help reduce the possibility of having a stroke. They are rich in polyphenol antioxidants and anthocyanins.

I have found both black and white mulberries growing here in the Valley. The white varieties are sweet, but a little bland. The black varieties are more flavorful. They are fun to just pick and eat right off the tree, although they will stain your fingers when you do so. You can make jams or jellies from them. I like to make mulberry pies.

The recipe is very simple. Three cups of mulberries, one cup sugar, one-quarter cup flour, one tablespoon of lemon juice and a dash of salt. Mix together well in a bowl and let stand about 10 minutes.

Line a nine-inch pie pan with bottom crust, add filling. Cover with top crust. Make a few slits in the top to let steam escape.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place a sheet of aluminum foil on a baking sheet. Place the pie on the sheet (the aluminum foil catches the filling that nearly always bubbles over a little bit if you haven’t sealed the edges of the crust tightly).

Bake for 35-40 minutes. Remove from the oven and enjoy. Great as is or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.