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Thursday, November 18, 2010
WHAT IS SHAHTOOT? PAKISTANI OR HIMALAYAN MULBERRY: USES AND HOW TO MAKE SHERBAT SHAHTOOT
The Shahtoot tree gets its name from Farsi and means King Mulberry. The fruits of the tree may be black, white or red, and were often complained about by the elderly because the falling fruit would stain their courtyards. Children who wanted the fruit were encouraged to clean up the mess it created in return for their healthy harvest. Birds love the mulberry as much as children and the large shahtoots are highly valued, for their surprisingly fine flavour. It can grow to 5 or 6 inches long and has been compared to a long caterpillar. They actually taste a little sweeter than ordinary mulberries which also grow along with shahtoots.
In the Punjab there used to be a cottage industry built around the shahtoot trees which used to grow near village wells and in fields. Not only were they good for shade in hot summers but the villagers also wove baskets from the tree bark; the larger ones were known as “tokra” and the smaller ones “tokri.” Because the wood from the tree is so flexible children used to make bows and arrows from it and play with them. The trees grew so widely that they were mentioned in folk songs, becoming part of folklore. Now they are a rare sight in Punjab, but there are hopes that they will return, as part of the sericulture program which may run in the province if the government give more help and guidance to villagers who would willingly farm silkworms and make silk for the textile industry if only they knew how to go about it.
Shahtoots are good for health too and have the same benefits as other mulberries, being rich in antioxidants; flavonoids and what researchers believe are anti-cancer agents.
In Iran these shahtoots are sold dried and reconstituted for cookery and medicine. They are certainly superfruits that have been known in this part of the world for thousands of years. In the West people are just beginning to realize the benefits of mulberries, and have recently taken to growing the Shahtoot mulberry trees.
You need to wash shahtoot well and use our mulberry syrup recipe with ice cream. The tea can also be made with shahtoot, but use less sugar.
1 kg. black shahtoot
1 kg water
2 kg sugar
Extract the juice from the shahtoot and strain into a pan. Mix well with the water and add the sugar. Bring to the boil and them lower the heat and stir until it has the consistency of a concentrated cordial or squash.
Remove from the heat. Allow to cool and pour into glass bottles.
When you want a glass, put 3 tbsps of the concentrate into a glass and add water.
This is especially good for sore throats and tonsillitis and for coughs and colds.
This has Taste and is a Treat.