When walking through a forest or any other natural place that radiates abundance, I feel most alive. I know that I am far from alone when I write that I deeply sense the power behind and the artistry within the way eco-pieces fit so perfectly into a rich and dynamic whole. I lack an adequate description for how this harmony puts me at ease.
While enjoying the nutritionally rich sparkle of a salad that was collected five minutes before mealtime (when much of the produce at the market was grown a month ago) and curtailing grocery bills are both notable benefits of foraging one of the greatest treasures of collecting and eating wild foods is of a soulful and mindful nature. There is something about picking and noshing on wild plants that charms the most discerning of onlookers. Even folks who sport a serious disinterest in nature will toss out a dozen questions when they spot you, trail side, plucking up an offensive weed and sticking it in your mouth. This intrigue is more than just inquisitive criticism; it is an outward expression of a deeper, more intuitive nudging. Foraging reminds us that our food is not created in a factory or a supermarket. It is created by our Earth, and it reconnects us in a deep and sustaining way going far beyond the boundaries of physical nutrition. No advancement in science can make this variety of beautiful connection obsolete. While the below is about dining directly from Earth’s garden, if you have skills at reading between the lines, you’ll recognize a very sincere plea for less consumption and more self-reliance. I encourage all of us to do all that we can do to nourish ourselves, our children and the planet that nourishes us all. Dig up, dig in, re-wild yourself…..and enjoy!
I grew up picking black raspberries and occasionally found interest in the deep purple gems hanging just overhead, but, it wasn’t until very recently that I took a serious look at these often unnoticed, untouched beauts.
There are two common mulberry tree species (plus many off shoot hybrids) here in the U.S. , the native red mulberry and the Asian white mulberry. The red mulberry, which reaches a height of about sixty-five feet, has rough, reddishbrown bark and the leaves are rounded, toothed, some oval shaped, some lobed. The fruit, also oval in shape, hangs from a thin, green fruit stalk and is composed of many very dark purple berries (when ripe.) Each little berry has its own seed. Red mulberry trees will be the ones that you are more likely to come across while foraging.
With the thought of beginning a silk industry in mind, white mulberry trees were imported from Asia during the 1800′s. Being too much work, this idea was quickly abandoned, though, not before this fertile tree swept its way across much of America. As the name implies, white mulberries are white with clearly visible black seeds in the center of each tiny berry.
It is not at all surprising to me that these little berries are being sold in stores as a superfood! As it turns out, mulberries mean business in the nutrition department. They are fairly high in protein; one handful contains about 3 grams of protein (for comparison- bananas are about 4% protein and mulberries are about 11%.) They are a sweet source of vitamin C ,with about one handful (I don’t necessarily dig the counting’ game when it comes to food, but when I must- it is usually by the handful), a 28-30 gram serving containing around 130% of the recommended daily amount. They’re also a decent source of iron, calcium, magnesium, vitamin K, potassium, and fiber.
Mulberries are one of those foods that I believe are best enjoyed, solostyle. Still, I’ll post a recipe for a fantastic smoothie and mulberry crisp below.
Wild Mulberry & Celery Smoothie Recipe
- 1 cup wild mulberries
- 1 banana (omit if you have lower glycemic needs)
- 1/2 cup pineapple, chopped (again, lessen or leave out for less sugar)
- 1 cup nut or seed milk (hemp, almond, coconut milk, etc.)
- 3-4 stalks of celery
- Blend until smooth and enjoy!
Mulberry Crisp Recipe
- 4 cups wild mulberries
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon (about 1 dropper ful) liquid stevia (or 1 tablespoon honey)
- 3/4-1 cup coconut flour
- 4 tablespoons coconut oil or ghee
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon (1 dropperful) liquid stevia
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- (can add in ground nuts/seeds and/or oats)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Combine fruit layer ingredients in a bowl and then pour the mixture into a fitting casserole dish.
- Combine the crumble topping ingredients (mix in coconut flour, slowly, until it reaches a crumble consistency. Evenly distribute crumble mixture on top of the fruit layer.
- Bake for 40 minutes.
- (Serve hot or cold)
(The one rule, sans exception, of foraging: know your plant. While the benefits of eating wild plants are significant and very worthy, there is no room for error. You can, and should, take all of the time that you need to get to securely know a plant before consuming it. You must comfortably and positively identify it 100% of the time.)