Stuffed Mulberry Leaves

by Sarah on April 18, 2009

I live next to the biggest mulberry tree on the block and every year anybody passing by stop for a moment to pick the fruit for a quick sweet snack. Sometimes older couples come with their nimble grandchildren and gather a bag or basketful of fruit. The fruit ripen in waves, and for weeks, until the beginning of summer, the tree is always laden with mulberries. Most eventually drop off the tree and onto the path where they ferment in the warm spring sun, staining the path and leaving a musty smell of a winery in the air. This year the mulberries are just about to ripen but it won’t be such a perfect gathering ground for people anymore.

The tree is beautiful, with dark green foliage, a shady haven in summer. Its branches used to extend outward and into the walking path between our houses. Complaints, a few phone calls and a city worker arrived to saw off all the lower branches which were so annoying to passersby’s or so annoying to one in particular. I was mad. Now the tree looks like a poodle, an embarrassment for a mulberry tree and not the natural way of things. I can’t pick leaves from the path anymore but my son is more than happy to climb the tree to collect them (I wish he was so enthusiastic for the other chores I give him).

Stuffed Mulberry leaves are eaten in south east Turkey and in northern Syria. Mulberries are grown for their berries, which are either eaten fresh or made into jams or wine. The berries are high in anthrocyanin pigments (blue, reds and purples) which are used as natural colorants in food. The leaves are used as supplements because they contain high levels of resveratrol and 1-deoxynojirimycin (say that three times fast), compounds which have been shown to have anti-imflammatory and antidiabetic properties. In fact, in Turkey and Jordan mulberry leaves have been the traditional method of treating diabetes (Morus Nigra). Let’s not forget that it is also the favorite food of the silk worm.

I stuffed the leaves as I would grape leaves, using my grandmother’s recipe but used vegetable stock instead of water. They were perfect. They didn’t have the characteristic flavor of grape leaves but a more subtle taste. I liked them much better than stuffed malva leaves. I never knew mulberry leaves were eaten until I found out from the friendly foodies at Egullet forum.
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