How to Forage for Mulberries

Mulberries are all over your news feed right now as they become ripe and ready to harvest. You may be wondering how to forage for your own mulberries. When we moved home we moved into an area where Mulberries are everywhere. Something we never had down south. Here they will grow anywhere no one cute them down. Birds spread them far and wide. Since our first summer here when we foraged Mulberries for homemade mulberry syrup it has been a tradition for us.

How to forage for mulberries

There are many great benefits of mulberries making them worth gathering and adding to your diet. If you are not as lucky as we are to have mulberries lining much of your fence line you can still enjoy fresh mulberries by foraging them. When we run out at home that is what we do next. Learning how to forage mulberries is easy.

How to Forage Mulberries

Mulberries can be found in the United States more common in areas that received some neglect rather than well cared for areas. City’s can be abandoned in them in less active areas outside of the downtown. Here in Detroit, the neighborhoods are teeming with them. While found in Canada it is on the endangered list so finding mulberries may take a bit more work.

The first thing you need to do when foraging for mulberries is to find a place to look for them. Look for somewhere you have the legal right to be. While vacant homes backyards are teaming with mulberries you must ask permission to go on private property. Instead visit your local parks, vacant areas owned by the city, and your favorite hiking trails. Mulberries grow well in nearly any area where trees are left to grow naturally. Fence lines and near footpaths are always a great place to look..

Once you find the signs of a mulberry tree it is easy to find where they are hiding. Look for purple colored bird waste on parked cars and side walks. This tell-tale sign will let you know that mulberries are nearby. When you find one mulberry tree you are bound to find more close by due to birds spreading them year after year.

Foraging for mulberries

Mulberries have two types of leaves. Lobed leaves that have a cut out like shape and serrated edge like in the photo above cover the majority of the plant. You will also find unlobed leaves that have the serrated edge but a smooth flowing shape without the cut ins.

Berries will be bumpy like tiny bunches of grapes. Similar and often mistaken for blackberries when fully ripe… I am guilty of this the first time I came upon a tiny verity in the north compared to the large ones homesteaders in my the Florida homesteaders group I am in shows off each year.

When to forage for berries

Mulberries are great because they ripen in stages throughout the season from late Mid to late June into mid July. Mulberries have a continuous harvest through the entire season so you can keep coming back. In our own backyard, they make a great snack the kids can bounce out and enjoy every day if they want for a few weeks. Whatever excess they pick each day gets tossed in the refrigerator where they can last up to a week for us to gather enough for a batch of Homemade Mulberry Jam.

The general rule is if you see purple on the ground under the berry bush the season has begun. When no berries are left on the bush the season is over. Often birds are your biggest competition. If you are making jam take some half-ripe fruit but leave the green berries to ripen. Unripe mulberries have a laxative effect so be careful when snacking while picking.

Mulberries are a very delicate fruit and will burst as you pick them leaving hands stained. This is all part of the fun and will wash off but if you have plans later in the day you can always opt for a pair of coated garden gloves. If you will be picking large batch of berries opt for a stack of smaller containers rather than load up a large pile. Mulberries will mash under their own weight.

 Rubbermaid FreshWorks Produce Saver Food Storage Containers make a great picking and storage option for small batch mulberry foraging. 
 Heavy Duty Gardening Gloves will help protect your hands while foraging mulberries. This ThisTthThis Multipurpose Garden Basket is the perfect companion for harvesting right out of your garden.  Take along a folding Step Stool to help reach taller berries… Or climb on your car like we do. One thing you learn quickly while foraging food is that bugs are a big part of it. Choose a Natural Insect Repellent Spray to help protect your family.

 EGrab your own copy of Edible Wild Plants: Eastern/Central North America (Peterson Field Guides) and see what else you can discover.


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