The Mulberry Lesson of the Green Stems

Some time ago, I blogged about picking and working with mulberries – Wild Blackberries, No, They’re Mulberries .

Mulberries June 2011One thing that makes mulberries more time-consuming is their little green stems.  You can see them in this photo of the mulberries that we had picked.

I learned a lesson in simplicity from those mulberries.  Funny how the gardens and nature seems to always have a lesson for me, if my mind is not too noisy and distracted to listen.

If you want to use the mulberries for baking muffins, a pie, tarts, jam, or other such delicious treats, then you must take kitchen shears and snip off each and every little green stem.  Otherwise, you will end up with what seems like chewy little sticks in your mouth as you bite into that tender muffin or flaky pie.  I’m guessing that after your guests have spit out a few stems, they won’t be back for seconds, no matter how good your baking skills.

Mulberries are slightly bland, but bursting with nutrition. Natural nutrition really lights me up.  Not in a radioactive sort of way, but in a “that is so cool and fascinating” kind of way.  I figure that besides the nutrients that we know of, berries and other natural foods likely have a whole spectrum of beneficial  ingredients that nutritionists have not even discovered yet.

However appealing that natural goodness is though, spending hours staining my hands purple-blue while snipping off each and every little green stem gets wearisome.  I’m good for about two or three cups of destemming mulberries, then the impatience begins to shadow my enthusiasm.

Then while I was snipping away,  a thought occurred to me:   The stems are edible.

I love smoothies and have one for lunch most days.  I always add some kind of berry to the blender;  several kinds of berries if I’m feeling artistic and getting awed by the sight of the lovely reds, purples and blues cascading next to each other.

Did I really need to snip off the stems of the mulberries that I will use in smoothies?  Ok.  You already guessed the answer: no, I don’t.  Didn’t.  The stems either grind up in the blender and disappear or they sink to the bottom of the smoothie glass where they don’t bother me at all.

Why was I meticulously snipping off stems from the mulberries meant for smoothies?  Because I wasn’t paying attention.  I wasn’t aware.  Like so many other things, I had done it that way before so I kept doing it without question.

Now that I am aware, my perspective has changed.  I can snip green stems until the enthusiasm has worn off and then just stop, rinse and freeze the rest of the mulberries in containers labeled “Mulberries for Smoothies.”   The label, boring yet effective, ensures that I don’t dump a cupful of frozen mulberries into a batch of muffins, only to discover that they all have lime-green, chewy stems.

I wonder what else I am doing because “that’s the ways it’s always been done” and I have never stopped to question it?

Now that  I’ve learned the mulberry lesson, I will make an effort to be more aware of possible alternatives when I find myself annoyed or impatient with something.  Maybe I’ll find a better way.

In order to allow the possibility of the better way, I’ll have to quiet the complaining, tense chatter in my mind.  Once I let go of that noisy,  negative mental commentary, those silent moments that follow can present some stellar solutions and alternatives.

I know this.  I’ve got the smoothies to prove it.

I hope that you, too, are able to quiet your mind and find some enlightening solutions of your own.

In peace,








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8 Responses to “The Mulberry Lesson of the Green Stems”

  1. Steph Says:

    Mulberries’ bland flavour and pasty texture pale against the subtle tartness of the raspberry and the firm full-bodied blackberry.


    Patti Reply:

    Steph, you are quite right. The mulberry is not as delicious as either raspberries or blackberries (we have raspberry and blackberry bushes also.)
    They have a very delicate, light flavor. However, once I began reading about all the natural nutrition in the mulberries I found them worth picking.
    That and the fact that they are right in our back meadow, prolific, organic, and free!


  2. Julia thomas Says:

    I make all of my pies with stems on. One doesn’t even notice the stems as they are not tough and once baked— almost melt in your mouth. Company always go back for seconds!????


  3. euan campbell Says:

    This is a quality idea! I’d never thought of mulberry smoothies before. Mulberry smoothies are now going to be my new favorite drink. thanks for this!


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