Monday 29 December 2008

mulberry & vanilla muffins


This is the last Weekend Herb Blogging for 2008. I can’t believe the year is almost over!

My recipe is a warm, comforting start to any day. Mulberries, which are fairly tart, balance well with the sweet vanilla flavour cake.

I like muffins served hot from the oven, perhaps with a sliver of melting butter.

Mulberry & Vanilla Muffins
Anna’s very own recipe. Makes 12.

250g mulberries
1 cup ricotta (approx 250g)
150g butter, melted
125ml milk
2 eggs
1 tablespoon sour cream
2 cups self raising flour
½ cup caster sugar
½ teaspoon mixed spice
1 vanilla bean
Pinch of salt
1. Preheat oven to 180’C. Grease 12-hole muffin tin and add liners.
2. Split vanilla bean and scrape out seeds.
3. Wash mulberries then remove the stalks and cut any very large berries in half.
4. Beat eggs with vanilla beans, milk and melted butter.
5. Add mixed spice, sour cream and ricotta and beat until combined.
6. Sift in flour, sugar and salt. Stir until only just combined. If needed add a little more milk.
7. Add mulberries and stir until only just combined. There will be lumps.
8. Divide amongst muffin tray and bake for 15-25 minutes, until golden brown on top and an inserted skewer comes out clean.
9. Cool in tin for 5 minutes then turn onto wire rack. Eat within 24hrs of making.

I have blogged about mulberries previously, so forgive me for recycling old information.

There are three main types of mulberries:
Black – native to western Asia, it was brought to Europe prior to Roman times.
Red – native to the eastern USA (Massachusetts to Kansas to the Gulf coast)
White – native to China and the original dinner for the silkworm. They were crossed with red varieties to provide more food sources for silkworms.

Interestingly, mulberries are also distantly related to breadfruit, jackfruit and figs.

Mulberry trees have a growth sprint in their youth but slow down and rarely grow taller than 10-15 metres. The berries start off white or pink then the red and black varieties darken deeply when ripe. The flavours of red and black berry varieties are more flavoursome than the white berry trees.

I remember when I’d pick the leaves for the silkworms I always managed to get bags and bags of the berries for myself and I’ve read that trees yield a large amount of fruit for their size when compared with other kinds of fruit trees.

Black mulberries, which have the strongest flavour contain about 9% sugar and also have malic and citric acid. You can eat them fresh (although I think they need a little sugar) or you can make pies, jam and sauces. Mulberry wines and mulberry ports are also very popular.

Immature fruits contain sap which is said to be mildly hallucinogenic while the ripe mulberries contain high amounts of resveratrol, a phytoalexin or antibacterial / anti-fungal chemical. Phytoalexins tend to have properties which are considers very beneficial and anti-cancer, antiviral, anti-aging, neuroprotective, anti-inflammatory. In the old days they used mulberries to treat ringworm.

It’s kind of strange that the berries are very fragile and get mouldy quickly when they contain so much anti-fungal chemical.

I am quite impressed with my WHB efforts of 2008 since I managed to experiment with so many different ingredients:
Apricots - Apricot Summer Dessert Soup
Avocado - Avocado Smoothie
Broccoli - Lemon & Garlic Broccoli
Chayote/Choko - Spicy Burmese Broth
Coriander - Zhoug (spicy Yemeni sauce); Chermoula Baked Snapper
Crown Dill - Swedish Crayfish Party
Cucumber - Indonesian Lime & Cucumber Drink
Drumstick - Drumstick Masala
Fig - Fig, Hazelnut & Chocolate Cake
Finger Lime - Finger Lime Martini
Grapefruit -
Grapefruit, Vanilla & Rosewater Marmalade
Grapes - Grape Nut Salad; Pickled Grapes
Hibiscus -
Karkanji (Central African spiced drink)
Horseradish - Oysters w Horseradish
Juniper Berries -
Venison w Blueberry Sauce
Kaffir -
Eggplant Sambal, Turmeric Rice, Kaffir Syrup
Kangkung -
Stir-Fried Water Spinach
Kohlrabi -
Kohlrabi Gratin
Lime -
Ethiopian Sauteed Fish
Lotus Root -
Sri Lankan Lotus Curry
Moringa -
Moringa Omelette
Mulberries - Mulberry & Vanilla Muffins
Okra -
Burkina Faso Fish & Veggie Stew
Palm Hearts -
Costa Rican Rice w Palm Hearts
Pandan - Sweet Sago w Spiced Coconut Milk
Parsley -
Sumac Scallops
Peaches -
Baked Peaches Stuffed w Amaretti
Piri-Piri Chillies - Portuguese-style Chicken
Plantains -
Plantain Fritters
Potato -
Potato Breakfast Curry
Quinoa -
Peruvian Quinoa Stew
Rose Apples
Rosemary -
Rosemary & Cheese Biscuits
Samphire - Glasört & Smör
Sumac - Grilled Eggplant w Tahini-Yoghurt Dressing
Sunchoke -
Baked Jerusalem Artichoke
Thyme -
Roast Chicken w Lemon & Thyme; Swedish Fish Soup
Truffles -
Truffled Green Beans
Verjuice -
Zucchini & Basil Salad w Verjuice & Currants
Yuca -
Ecuadorian Tuna & Yuca Soup
Zucchini -
Zucchini Breakfast Bake

I think I managed to cover off some very interesting items!

This is my last WHB for 2008, so join me in 2009 to read over the wonderful recap by our lovely Haalo from Cook (Almost) Anything At Least Once!



  1. I never had mulberries before but I am sure that they must taste great. They look great in the muffins.

  2. Mulberries and blackberries are very common to my area, but hubby will only eat mulberries if they're in muffins because it's so hard to get the stem out. I scrape the stem between fork tines into dry muffin ingredients. Is there an easier way to separate mulberries from their stems?

    One of my childhood friends knew of a white mulberry tree in someone's backyard (almost all of ours are red), and somehow we managed to get a few. The white mulberries tasted sweeter than the red, and to me, they had that "magical fruit taste" like ripe plums, that make my eyes roll to the back of my head because they taste so wonderful. I guess I'd describe the white mulberries as "slightly tart honey". Hee hee, only tried them once as a child, and can remember what they tasted like 8^)

    The red mulberries are VERY tart if they're not dark red, almost violet. And their taste isn't nearly as good as I remember the white mulberries tasting. Hubby prefers blackberries to mulberries because of taste too. But once the blackberries are gone, he'll eat mulberries in muffins.

  3. I see a link to Ubud in your market photos section. I hope next time you're in Bali you will come to the Ubud Organic Farmers Market where Gede Green sells mulberries grown in Bali. The market is over two years old and is truly a great weekly event - Saturdays 9-2 at Pizza Bagus.


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