The warmer months have arrived when raspberries are at the peak of harvest. Of course, the best raspberries are BC local, since they can be left on the vine until they reach full ripeness. It’s a small, deep coloured berry, which has a sweet intense yet delicate juicy taste and a pleasant fragrance. This all-time favourite is filled with sweet yet subtly tart sensations and a soft, almost ‘melt-in-your-mouth’ tender texture!
Interestingly, they are not actually berries, but “etaerios of druplets” – clusters of individual sections of fruit, each with its own seed. The raspberry begins with a white to pink colour and then becomes increasingly deeper and darker with ripening. Delicately arranged around a core, when picked from the bush the core remains on the bush, leaving the raspberry a hollow central cavity, and the berry quite fragile. The most common and most cultivated variety is the red raspberry, tends to be the sweetest too.
In BC, the ‘Everberry’ red raspberry variety is usually ready later in the month of June, weather pending. Other raspberries are ready late June or early July, overlapping with strawberries until mid summer.
As one of the most perishable fruits, raspberries should only be purchased one or two days prior to use. When selecting raspberries, be sure to pick ripe raspberries since ripening ceases when picked. Choose those that are firm, hollow, plump, slightly soft, brightly deep red in colour, and good aroma, while avoiding overly soft, mushy or mouldy, and dull-coloured berries. Usually purchased in a container, check to ensure the bottom has no signs of stains or moisture from leaking juice, indication of possible spoilage or over ripeness. In addition, the berries should not be packed too tightly since this may cause them to become crushed and damaged which will indicate that they are too soft and overripe.
Once brought home, use them as soon as possible to ensure the best flavor, appearance, and nutrient content. Make sure these berries are not exposed to the sun or room temperature for any length of time, as this will cause them to spoil. Take care to arrange unwashed in a single layer, on a tray or platter that is lined with paper towels; removing any berries that are moulded or spoiled so that they will not contaminate the others. Loosely cover, refrigerate unwashed for up to two days. Please note: Unripe strawberries may need to be kept out of the fridge for a few days to, hopefully, develop a little more colour.
Freezing For longer storage, whole raspberries freeze well and can be frozen up to a year: First, rinse with the lowest of water pressure – use a sink sprayer if available – to keep the fruit’s delicate shape in tact. Then, pat dry with a paper towel. Place the berries in a single layer on a flat pan or cookie sheet and place in the freezer. Once frozen, transfer the berries to a firm airtight freezer proof container that will protect the berries from being damaged while being stored in the freezer.
Raspberries are very fragile and must be handle with care to maintain its quality by avoiding any bruising. However, overly soft and mushy raspberries may still be puréed for a sauce or coulis. Remove any damaged berries or unwanted debris.
Raspberries are fairly clean fruit and washing is to be kept to a minimum. Wait until just before eating or recipe preparation to give only a quick, gentle rinse in under cold water so that they do not have time to absorb the moisture and become mushy. Drain and carefully spread out on a dry paper towel, gently patting any excess beads of water away. Prepare in desired manner as soon as possible.
- Adding sugar, lemon juice, or orange juice to raspberries will help preserve their bright, lovely colour.
- One pint of fresh raspberries is equal to 1 3/4 cups.
Fresh raspberries are delicious and can be used in many of the same ways in which strawberries are used and is well suited for exquisite desserts and savoury dinner toppings.
A Few Quick Serving Ideas
- Delicious eaten on their own, spoon over ice cream, top with a little sugar and cream, or sprinkle with balsamic vinegar
- Mix fresh raspberries in with creamy millet porridge or as a topping on cold cereal for a sweet-tart morning breakfast treat
- Flavouring for homemade muffins and breakfast breads
- Try making a nutritious fruit smoothie for breakfast, treats, or meals on the go
- Make a parfait using plain yogurt mixed with raspberries, honey and freshly ground mint
- A topping for waffles or pancakes
- Drizzle and garnish an angel food cake
- Frozen raspberries can be used as “ice cubes” to chill lemonade or iced tea on a hot summer day
- Almond butter and raspberry jam are a flavourful, healthy alternative to the traditional peanut butter & jam sandwich
- Salad dressing – raspberries can be blended with oil and vinegar to make a pleasing vinaigrette
- Garnish a fruit or vegetable salad
- Side dish to accompany chicken and tuna salads
Make a raspberry sauce to serve with savoury poultry or fish dishes
Raspberries are an antioxidant food containing ellagic acid. This nutrient may help prevent unwanted damage to cell membranes, etc. by neutralizing free radicals. More encouraging research suggests that raspberries may have cancer protective properties. Raspberries are a fabulous source of vitamin C, containing 40% of a person’s daily needs.
Raspberries (raw), 1 cup (123g)
Total Fat: 0.7g
*Foods that are an “excellent source” of a particular nutrient provide 20% or more of the Recommended Daily Value, based upon United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) guidelines. Foods that are a “good source” of a particular nutrient provide between 10 and 20% of the USDA Recommended Daily Value. Nutritional information and daily nutritional guidelines may vary in different countries. Please consult the appropriate organization in your country for specific nutritional values and the recommended daily guidelines.
- Raspberries have a long history, tracing back to prehistoric times. Wild raspberries were found in both eastern Asia and the Western Hemisphere. It is speculated that the seeds were carried – by travelers or animals – across the Bering Straight during ancient times.
- The first written mention of raspberry cultivation was in an English book on herbal medicine dated 1548.
- Members of the rose family, raspberries are related to blackberries, bake-apples, and salmonberries and a bramble fruit like the blackberry.
- Besides the red raspberry, the other varieties that exist are the purple flowering raspberry, the black raspberry and the golden raspberry.
- Raspberries are known as “aggregate fruits” since they are made up of smaller seed-containing fruits, called drupelets, which are arranged around a hollow central cavity.
Please Note Raspberries contain a naturally occurring substance called ‘oxalates’. When oxalates become too concentrated in body fluids, they can crystallize and cause health problems. For this reason, those with pre-existing and untreated kidney or gallbladder problems may want to abstain from eating raspberries.