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Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Stalking the wild mulberry

木苺、桑,蚕

Wild raspberries One of the delights of living in the Japanese countryside is free food. I'm not talking about the masses of surplus vegetables that neighbors are constantly giving us, that's good, but its the wild food that is free for the picking at almost all times of the year. Collecting wild food is a tradition that remains strong in Japan. Until last week it was the raspberries (kiichigo) that were ripe. Everyday a good handful could be picked around my property, and a walk along almost any road yielded lots more. There is something about free food that makes it particularly tasty.

Mulberries Right now its the mulberries (kuwa) that are getting ripe. Technically they are not really wild. The mulberry trees were planted for their leaves, which are what silkworms (kaiko) feed on, but since the collapse of the domestic silk production industry, only a few oldtimers still raise silkworms. Down by the river are lines of overgrown mullberry trees, and at this time of the year its not unusal to see kids, and some adults, with purple-stained hands and mouths.

Silkworm In fifteen minutes we picked about half a kilo of the luscious berries, enough for a couple of jars of jam. The fresh berries are great as is, straight off the tree, and blended with yoghurt make a delicious smoothie.
Mulberries in a basket

Books on Japanese food

Books on Japanese Nature & Plants

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