Mulberry Recipes

In my last post I gave you lots of information about mulberries. While the health benefits of food are very important it’s crucial that things are pleasant to the taste or we don’t want to eat them. For me, mulberries are high up on the list of tasty, healthy foods.

Below are my recipes for Mulberry Jam, Green Leaf Mulberry Tea, and Mulberry Pie.

Mulberry Jam:

  • 6 cups mulberries, stems removed and washed
  • 5 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 box pectin

Pick about 6 cups of mulberries. A good mix is about 1/4 red berries to 3/4 very dark berries. The red berries will help set your jam as they have a higher natural pectin content. I let the berries rest in the refrigerator overnight. Pick off the tiny stems and wash the berries. Warning: mulberries stain everything. Be prepared to have purple hands for several days and don’t wear anything you want to keep clean!

Freshly-picked-mulberries

Prepare jars, lids, and rings for hot water bath canning. Half pint jars will yield 6 – 7 jars of jam. Please be sure to follow all instructions for hot water canning!

Crush berries thoroughly (I used a potato masher) and begin to heat in a non-reactive pan, stirring constantly.

When the juices begin to release from the berries add the lemon juice and pectin. Bring to a full boil (one that cannot be stirred down). Stir in sugar until well incorporated, stirring constantly. Bring back to a full boil and continue to boil, stirring constantly, for 4 minutes.

Adding-sugar-to-mulberries

Constant-stirring

When the jam has boiled for a full 4 minutes carefully pour into clean, hot jars. Leave 1/4″ headspace. Add lids and finger tighten rings.

Filling-jam-jars

Cover your hot water bath canner and bring to a full boil. Reduce heat to a gentle boil and cook for 10 minutes. Immediately remove jars and keep in a draft free spot until jars have cooled completely. Check the seals on your jars. The center should be down and there should be no “give” in the lids. Remove the rings. Wash and label your jars. Any jars that have not sealed properly should be refrigerated and used within a week.

Clean-labeled-jarsThese jars are ready for storage in a cool, dark spot. If you have a basement, this is often the ideal place to keep the jars. Mine is cool, dry, and I have a nice dark place for them.

Next: Mulberry Cobbler!

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All Natural Vapor Rub Alternative

So I (Kate) and the girl children that I spawned have been keeping ourselves busy outside as often as possible now that the weather has gotten nice.  However, on the rainy days we did some shopping and some creating.

I don’t know about everyone else’s houses, but in our house, we go through VapoRub like the stuff will cure all the ails of the planet.  So I set out to find a way to make my own…also because I don’t like the nasty greasy feel of the store bought kind.

This is what we came up with:

  • 3 Tablespoons coconut oil
  • 10 drop eucalyptus essential oil
  • 2 drops rosemary essential oil
  • 5 drops lavender essential oil

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And it was literally so easy a 6 year old can do it and mine did. You just mix it all together.  So simple and easy!  It may have even been easier if I had melted the coconut oil before adding the essential oils.

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After she was done I did use the electric hand mixer and give it a whirl to smooth the consistency before putting it in a jar, but for the most part she did it all on her own.  Again, if I had melted the coconut oil, I wouldn’t have had to use the mixer on it, but we’re learning as we go.  Next time I’ll melt it down to save myself some time, but it literally only took 3 minutes to make a batch of it.  And it smells better than the store bought stuff.  It’s still “stinky” so that it works, but the lavender really gives it another layer.

It will be a staple in our house from now on, that’s for sure.  No more icky VapoRub.

In Praise of the Mighty Mulberry!

Mulberries-on-treeI admit it. I’m a mulberry freak. I love the things and I try to bring more and more people into the fold. When I say, “Come over to the dark side” I’m talking about those wonderful berries. And the trees are pretty common. Many people have mulberry trees on their property (or a neighbor’s) and don’t even know it! It’s tragic! Okay. Maybe not tragic but it’s a waste of some really great berries that are free for the picking. There are multiple health benefits to eating mulberries or drinking mulberry leaf tea. Below is a pretty extensive list of them but if that kind of thing bores you just skip to the next post which is all recipes! Mulberry leaves contain calcium, iron and zinc. Mulberries also contains the antioxidants ascorbic acid and beta carotene. Antioxidants inhibit cellular damage caused by free radicals, which get created during food digestion and smoke and radiation exposure. Type 2 diabetes is characterized by increased blood glucose levels. According to a study published in “The American Journal of Chinese Medicine” in 2012, mulberry lowers blood glucose due to its gallic acid content. In a study published in “Diabetes Care” in 2007, this effect was shown in Type 2 diabetes patients. In the study, everyone in a diabetes group and a healthy control group received a sucrose drink, but some also got mulberry extract, while the others got a placebo. Blood glucose was tested beforehand and two, three and four hours after sucrose consumption. The results showed that taking mulberry significantly curbed glucose spikes in the first two hours after consumption. The scientists concluded that mulberry could be useful both in the treatment of diabetes and in its prevention. In a study published in 2013 in “BioMed Research International,” triglyceride and LDL cholesterol levels were lowered significantly in patients given 280 grams of mulberry leaf powder three times daily for three months. A study published in 2010 in the “Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition” found similar results after giving participants 12 milligrams of mulberry leaf extract three times daily for three months. These studies suggest that regular heavy doses of this herb may be required to see significant results in lowering cholesterol and triglycerides. However, sipping some mulberry leaf tea regularly may help prevent high cholesterol. According to a study published in 2013 in the “Journal of Functional Foods,” mulberry leaf has been traditionally used to treat inflammation caused by chronic diseases, and the results of the study verify its anti-inflammatory effects. In vitro, scientists found mulberry leaf inhibits inflammatory agents in the body, cutting off the body’s inflammatory response. This effect was shown in rats in a study published in 2010 in “Phytotherapy Research.” Rats with induced paw edema were introduced to mulberry, which inhibited the formation of inflamed paw tissue. These studies suggest mulberry leaf tea could be used to help ease pain by reducing inflammation.

  • Delicious, fleshy, succulent mulberries are less in calories (just 43 calories per 100 g). They compose of health promoting phyto-nutrient compounds like polyphenol pigment antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins that are essential for optimum health.
  • Mulberries have significantly high amounts of phenolic flavonoid phytochemicals called anthocyanins. Scientific studies have shown that consumption of berries have potential health effects against cancer, aging and neurological diseases, inflammation, diabetes, and bacterial infections.
  • The berries contain resveratrol, another polyphenol flavonoid antioxidant. Resveratrol protects against stroke risk by altering molecular mechanisms in the blood vessels; reducing their susceptibility to damage through reduced activity of angiotensin (a systemic hormone causing blood vessel constriction that would elevate blood pressure) but potentiating production of the vasodilator hormone, nitric oxide.
  • In addition, these berries are an excellent sources of vitamin-C (36.4 mg per 100, about 61% of RDI), which is also a powerful natural antioxidant. Consumption of foods rich in vitamin-C helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents, counter inflammation and scavenge harmful free radicals.
  • Further, the berries also contain small amounts of vitamin A, and vitamin E, in addition to the above-mentioned antioxidants. Consumption of mulberry provides another group of health promoting flavonoid polyphenolic antioxidants such as lutein, zea-xanthin, ß-carotene and a-carotene in small but notably significant amounts. Altogether, these compounds help act as protect from harmful effects of oxygen-derived free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) that play a role in aging and various disease processes.
  • Zea-xanthin, an important dietary carotenoid selectively concentrates into the retinal macula lutea, where it thought to provide antioxidant functions and protects the retina from the harmful ultraviolet rays through light-filtering actions.
  • Mulberries are an excellent source of iron, which is a rare feature among berries, contain 1.85 mg/100 g of fruits (about 23% of RDI). Iron, being a component of hemoglobin inside the red blood cells, determines the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood.
  • They also good source of minerals like potassium, manganese, and magnesium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase.
  • They are rich in B-complex group of vitamins and vitamin K. Contain very good amounts of vitamin B-6, niacin, riboflavin and folic acid. These vitamins are function as co-factors and help body in the metabolism of carbohydrates, protein, and fats.

Mulberries coFully-ripe-and-mostly-ripeme in three varieties; white, pink, and red. I’m going to stick to the red in this post because it’s the kind I use for jam, pie, and sauce. I also have a white mulberry tree but I’m sticking with the black for now. A word of warning; mulberries stain. They stain hands, feet, clothing, and everything else the juice touches. Don’t wear anything you want to keep stain free when picking or cooking with mulberries! The stains will (eventually) come off skin but be prepared to have purple fingers (and maybe feet) for at least a few days. An important thing to note about unripe mulberries: they are poisonous/hallucinogens.  The leaves, when dried, are edible and dried mulberry leaves have been used to increase weight gain in lambs and goats. The Chinese have eaten the berries and used the leaves for teas for centuries. Just stay away from white and mostly white berries. You’ll not only hallucinate but your tummy will never forgive you! Picking mulberries isn’t really picking. The ripe berries fall to the ground and are perfectly safe to pick up for use as long as they aren’t falling on sprayed grass or next to a roadway where they’re subjected to lots of exhaust. On of the easiest ways to gather mulberries is to spread a sheet or tarp on the ground beneath the tree and shake the branches. The ripe berries fall right off the branch like manna from heaven. But for jam you will want to add a few that are still red instead of the deep black color of the very ripe berries. Shoot for about 1/4 red berries in the total mix. The slightly under-ripe berries will help your jam set up properly. In the next post I will give you my recipe for Mulberry Jam and also for Green Leaf Mulberry Tea.

TEOTWAWKI

You may have heard the acronym “TEOTWAWKI” before. It stands for The End Of The World As We Know It. Most people think of it in terms of a zombie apocalypse or nuclear war. But really anything that profoundly alters your way of life is a TEOTWAWKI scenario for you and your family. It can be the loss of a job, your home could burn down, or a family member could have a serious illness. That’s what happened to me (Emma) and her husband, John last fall.

Beginning in about March of 2014, John began having pain in his neck which shot up to his left ear. At first the pain was fleeting and not all that bad. But as time when on it got worse and more frequent. It lasted longer than a moment or two. Finally he went to the doctor who suspected some kind of infection. He was faithful about taking the antibiotics and we expected the pain would end quickly. It didn’t.

Returning to the doctor, he was again given antibiotics. Both visits showed no ear infection, no infection in the throat, nor anything else that was obviously the source of the problem. Still, the doctor thought it had to be something minor. It was not. In September, after months and months of worsening pain, he was sent for a biopsy of his esophagus. John has a condition called Barrett’s Esophagus which is a pre-cancerous condition. That biopsy was clear. No sign of cancer there. But in November, with the pain still increasing, he was sent to a head/neck specialist who scoped the back of his tongue and throat. There was a lesion on the extreme back of his tongue. It was impossible to see by looking in his mouth. Another biopsy was ordered and before he was even taken to the surgical suite we were told it was “probably” cancerous and that chemo and radiation would likely be next.

On the day before Thanksgiving we got the results. The doctor called to tell us John had cancer. It was, for us, TEOTWAWKI.

Exactly a week before Christmas Eve John started chemotherapy. That was Wednesday. By Friday he was in the hospital with kidney failure. He started radiation therapy that Sunday. They’d wheel his bed over to the cancer center in the hospital for radiation. He had radiation five days a week for months. He had chemotherapy three times. He was very sick, weak as a kitten, and required round-the-clock care and I was the only one who could do it.

It was then that I realized how fortunate we were to have prepared for emergencies. This winter was particularly cold. I am disabled and the cold is extremely hard on me. By having enough food in the house to feed myself (John was on a feeding tube all winter) I could get by with our son going to the grocery store for me every couple of weeks just for odds and ends. I actually could have done it all on our stored foods.

And it wasn’t just food that came in handy. I had a stockpile of paper towels and John used a roll every couple of days. I had buckets for when he was too sick to get to the bathroom. We had, in short, everything we needed except the new prescriptions John required.

That’s not to say this wasn’t a learning experience. As I mentioned, this winter was extremely cold here and during the worst of it, when the temperatures were -15 below 0 without the wind chill, our furnace went out. I had no way to keep John, myself, and the dogs warm. Thanks to our youngest son and two great friends we had 4 heaters within an hour but it woke me up to the fact that it’s not always going to be possible to depend on the fireplace. It would have been very difficult on him to move John’s hospital bed to the family room where the fireplace is located. It would have meant opening that room to the outside elements every time I had to let the dogs out. Now we’re making adjustments to our heating plan knowing that we can’t always, even with the generator, count on the furnace.

And I learned that, in spite of trying to think of every contingency, life will throw things at us that we didn’t anticipate. I learned that it really does take a group to get through things. I’m building my community so that, if the zombie apocalypse does come, we have enough people with crucial skills that we can not just survive, but thrive.

John is cancer-free now and we’re rebuilding our stocks. I’m investing in items I never realized I’d need and we’re refining our plans.

When you’re planning for your TEOTWAWKI scenarios don’t forget that the end of the world may come as something you didn’t consider. Try to think of every possible situation and plan, as well as you can, for those situations. Fire, flood, famine, illness, and zombies are just a few of the possible situations you might face. Consider, plan, study, and prepare.