Rubus fruticosus (blackberry), Morus alba, nigra or rubra (white, black and red mulberry, respectively) — Both fruits are made of aggregated drupelets.
When more are blackberries, they grow on a rovo (blackberry bush); when they are mulberries they grow on a gelso (mulberry tree). Mulberry trees are famous also because their leaves feed silk worms, bachi da seta. As an amateur bookbinder and boxmaker, I am also familiar with mulberry paper, produced from an Asian species of mulberry tree (Morus papyrifera or Broussonetia papyrifera).
While I have no experience picking mulberries, I love picking blackberries: getting scraped by the thorns and squirted by their juice is sheer fun. In comparison, picking blueberries (mirtilli) is a subdued experience. I remember myself as a child going home purple-striped and bleeding here and there, but, oh so happy! I still get excited when I see ripening blackberries, especially since I learned to use them to make sorbet. Removing the pips makes the process a bit time-consuming and another threat to your clothes (this one even more powerful, given the concentration of the juice), but the result is worth the extra time investment. And this year I will have my brand new grembiule to protect my clothes.
I picked the first more of the season yesterday and since they were not enough for a sorbet, I used them to make muffins, adapting a recipe originally for raspberries in the current issue of EatingWell.
Well, as you can see on the photo, the result was not pretty to look at, but my husband loved it and wanted me to write his assessment: they are a cross between pancakes and muffins and offer the best of both worlds.
The unintended shape of my panfins was due to my first ever use of baking cups: according to the manufacturer, they could be used without a muffin pan, which is indeed the case, but they are too thin to hold the batter, which explains their shape.
A final note about mulberry trees: in the olden days they were planted in a way that grape vines could use them as support: the result was called viti maritate ai gelsi (vines married to mulberry trees). The practice is now being revived. Other trees can be used as well, like poplars and elms.
[This post was inspired by Peter's entry for WHB #91: zucchini carpaccio with mulberries, which he made again with blackberries and verified that either berry works well in it: thanks Peter!]
Click on the button to hear me pronounce the Italian words mentioned in the post:
or launch the mora audio file [mp3].
[Depending on your set-up, the audio file will be played within the browser or by your mp3 player application. Please, contact me if you encounter any problems.]