Mulberries remind me of a childhood spent climbing trees, scraping knees, catching fireflies and sneaking off to the beach with my best friend – Matt. Military brats, we grew up on Okinawa in a time when summer meant that mom would open the door at breakfast and you weren’t expected back until dusk.
We’d pack our bags with a sandwich and enough change to buy a Watchamacallit before walking to the local marina where we’d search the reef for treasures,
torture play with the sea cucumbers, fight aliens, talk astronomy and pluck mulberries from the trees – eating them by the handful – until our bellies were full. My mother would warn me not too – telling me I’d get sick, catch worms. I never did catch worms, but her perturbed warnings left me with a perpetual love of the illicit mulberry of my childhood.
With no mulberries nearby me now, I recently picked up a few pounds at the farmers market – a rare offering – to make this simple mulberry and einkorn wheat crumble. I love the rich dark flavor of the mulberries and how it brightens at the touch of a little balsamic vinegar.
Once cooked, mulberries take on a flavor similar to blueberries only a bit earthier. Like most berries, mulberries are also rich in antioxidants – particularly reservatrol which is also found in grapes and wine. Like many antioxidants, some data show that reservatrol reduces oxidative stress and may also mitigate the risk of cancer – particularly skin and gastrointestinal cancers.
Mulberries grow wild all across the country, but if you’re not lucky enough to find a wild mulberry tree, you can often find them at farmers markets during the late spring and summer.
Einkorn is the first wheat – the original wheat. Before selective breeding and hybridization changed wheat into what it is today, there was einkorn – a grain enjoyed by epi-paleolithic man and the first wheat cultivated when the fertile hills of ancient Turkey and Palestine blossomed with the dawn of agriculture, and, subsequently, civilization 11,000 years ago.
Unlike modern wheat, einkorn is not hybridized and contains a shorter genetic structure (14 chromosomes as opposed to 42). The gluten structure in einkorn is also functionally different from the gluten molecule in modern wheat, and some research suggests that just like rice, millet or other grains, it might be suitable for the gluten-intolerant.
Like all grains (and pulses) einkorn should be soaked overnight in warm and slightly acidic water which helps to facilitate the deactivation of naturally occurring antinutrients found in the bran of the grain. In preparing Mullberry and Buttered Einkorn Crumble, simply soak about 1/2 cup einkorn wheat berries in enough warm water to cover them by two inches, stirring in about 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or lemon juice. Drain it through a fine-mesh sieve, rinse well and boil it in about 1 1/2 to 2 cups water until tender.
where to find einkorn
Einkorn is not yet widely available. While you may be able to find a limited number of einkorn cookies and pastas at a well-stocked health food store, einkorn wheat berries and high extraction einkorn flour are not as easily found. I purchase my einkorn berries and flour online from a company that practices truly sustainable, biodynamic methods (and offers bulk pricing and free shipping). Check it out.
where to find unrefined cane sugar
This recipe for Mulberry and Buttered Einkorn crumble also calls for whole, unrefined cane sugar. Whole, unrefined cane sugar is a traditional sweetener made by boiling down sugar cane juice until it crystallizes. It retains its full retinue of minerals and is not bleached or processed further. You can find good quality whole, unrefined cane sugar in most health food stores and some well-stocked grocery stores; however, you can often find it online in bulk (see sources).
- 2 pounds mulberries, (trimmed of little stems and rinsed well)
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1¾ cups high extraction einkorn flour, (divided)
- ¾ cup whole, unrefined cane sugar, (divided)
- 1 cup cooked einkorn wheat berries
- ¼ cup butter, (softened)
- ½ teaspoon unrefined sea salt
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In a large mixing bowl, toss mulberries together with balsamic vinegar, vanilla extract, ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar and ½ cup flour. Mix well, but take care not to bruise the berries. Layer the berries in a 1½ quart baking dish.
- Beat remaining 1¼ cups einkorn flour with remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, salt and butter - about two minutes or until well-combined. Beat in cooked einkorn berries and crumble, by hand, over mulberries.
- Bake the mulberry crumble for 45 minutes or until the berries bubble and the crumble turns golden brown on top. Cool before serving.