Raspberries: Summer's Jewels

Handle these berries with care and they will reward you with glorious flavor!

By FamilyTime


Say “raspberry” and the word alone can make your mouth water. Wild and cultivated throughout the Northern Hemisphere and parts of the Southern Hemisphere, this luscious sweet-tart fruit is a member of the same botanical family as the blackberry, and like the blackberry, is composed of tiny juice sacs called druplets. Unlike the blackberry, though, the raspberry’s core detaches when picked, which accounts for its characteristic cup shape — and its fragility.

Raspberries have been cultivated for food and medicine at least since the time of the ancient Greeks. The berry’s English name is believed to come from the old English, “rasp,” or scrape, because of its rough exterior and prickly cane bush.

The most commonly available raspberry is the red variety. Black raspberries have more prominent seeds, and also one of the highest concentrations of healthful antioxidants of any food. The purple raspberry is a cross between the red and the black, and is more tart. Yellow, orange or golden raspberries are the rarest and sweetest of all. The loganberry is a hybrid of the red raspberry and trailing blackberry.

Raspberry Treats

Raspberries are delicious eaten fresh, alone or with cream, but they can also be puréed for sauces. (Strain out the seeds if they bother you.) Add them to smoothies, sprinkle a handful over cereal or use as a garnish for ice cream or other desserts. Bake them into pies and cobblers or cook them into jams, jellies and preserves .If your berries are too tart, douse with sugar (2 tablespoons of granulated sugar for a pint, or to taste). Raspberry vinegar is lovely on salad; toss some dried or fresh raspberries into the greens and a sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper for contrast.

Raspberry Sauce

The quintessential dessert sauce is delicious on anything chocolate, and works its magic also on cheesecake, pancakes, ice cream or yogurt. To make it, put about 2 cups of washed berries in a blender, add about ¼ cup of granulated sugar (or to taste), and if you wish, a splash of raspberry brandy or cassis. As you blend the sauce, taste and add the sugar as needed. Strain the sauce through a fine-mesh sieve, stirring well to get as much sauce through the mesh as you can.

Selecting Raspberries

Domestic raspberries are available from July through September and into October. Buy only dry ones, with no soft spots or mold, and no juice leaking on the bottom of the package. Once picked, they do not ripen, so look for dark red berries.

Handling Raspberries

Fresh raspberries only last two or three days. Don’t wash them until just before you use them; Rinse them very gently (don’t soak or they’ll turn to mush). To refrigerate, remove them from their packaging and place them in a paper towel-lined container. To freeze, rinse, drain and dry them on a paper towel-lined baking sheet. When they are dry, freeze them right on the baking sheet so that they don’t stick together. When frozen, transfer to a freezer container and seal tightly. Frozen berries can be added to baking recipes without thawing.