Raspberries

Peak season for raspberries is during the middle of summer and I had the good fortune of being in the midst of Oregon’s berry season while vacationing there this past week. The freshest assortment of berries seemed to be everywhere and I devoured (literally) some of the regional berries, like Black Cap raspberries and Marion berries. I also tried hybrid berries, as well as the common and always delicious red raspberry.

Carved into our schedule were visits to farm stands that proudly sold baskets brimming full of the biggest, juiciest berries I have ever seen. I had the opportunity to visit and tour Bauman Farms located in Gervais, Oregon. This is the place where I had my first taste of fresh handpicked black raspberries, boysenberries, tayberries, and loganberries, they all have their own delicious distinctiveness. Thank you Soleil for the guided tour!

Varieties of Raspberries

Raspberries — Genus Rubus — are an aggregate fruit, a bramble fruit like the blackberry, composed of many tiny drupelets and come in a range of colors. They are harvested from prickly shrubs related to the rose family and native to North America.

Red Raspberry – Rubus idaeus – is the most common type of raspberry, is fragrantly sweet with a subtly tart overtone.

Black Caps or Black Raspberries – these berries are native to Oregon, taste similar to red raspberries with a slight licorice-like flavor, their color is a characteristic rich black color and between the drupelets is a white coating, called bloom.

White Raspberries – has a tender texture, a sweet delicate taste and a pleasant aroma.

Hybrids of Raspberries

Boysenberries – a cross between a raspberry, a loganberry, and a blackberry, it is a very large in comparison to other berries, has a deep maroon-purple color and are deliciously sweet.

Loganberries – a cross between a raspberry and a blackberry with a very thin dusty coating on it that is called bloom, and it has a unique sweet-tart flavor.

Tayberries – a cross between an Aurora blackberry and a red raspberry with a flavor like red raspberry

Wild Raspberries

Arctic Brambleberry – a very scarce variety that has the same shape and similar size as the wild red or black raspberry. It is red in color, has a closer resemblance to the black raspberry in taste, size and appearance, yet has a slightly sweeter and more robust flavor than other raspberries.

Purple-Flowering Raspberry – has a faded red coloring, a flat dome-shaped appearance, is not as sweet as other raspberries, and is generally found growing wild in country forests and fields.

Wild Raspberry – is sweet, similar in texture and flavor but smaller in size than black or red varieties, and it grows abundantly in country forests and fields.

Click here to view a chart of many more varieties of raspberries.

Nutritional Profile and Benefits of Raspberries

The health benefits of raspberries are outstanding. They contain significant amounts of antioxidants and flavonoids that help fight against free radicals and degenerative diseases. They are little nutritional powerhouses packed with protective compounds and contain the following vitamins and minerals:

Calcium | Copper | Dietary Fiber | Iron | Magnesium | Manganese | Omega 3 fatty acids | Potassium | Vitamin B2 [riboflavin] | Vitamin B3 [niacin] | Vitamin B6 [pyridoxine] | Vitamin B9 [Folate-Folic Acid] | Vitamin C | Vitamin E | Vitamin K

Raspberries are cholesterol and fat free and are low in calories – about 64 calories per one cup.

Selecting and Storing Raspberries

The best way to get raspberries is to pick your own, if you are lucky enough to have access to a raspberry patch. When the berries are ripe for picking, they should pull off the hull easily (note that raspberries do not ripen once they are picked).

When selecting raspberries, choose those that have a deep rich even color, are slightly soft, plump, and have a good aroma. If you are buying raspberries prepackaged in a container, be sure to check the bottom to see if it has stained or is leaking juice (this will indicate that they are too soft and overripe). Also, sort through the container and discard any berries that are too soft, mashed, damp, decayed or moldy.

Raspberries are delicate fruits vulnerable to spoilage and fungi. They rank high among the berries that are heavily treated with toxic pesticides. When purchasing raspberries, or any other berries for that matter, look for and choose organic.

They are highly perishable, for this reason it is best to purchase raspberries one or two days prior to use. They are also extremely delicate and easily crushed or damaged so handle with care. Before storing, check the raspberries once more for any that might be damaged or spoiled. Place unwashed raspberries in their original container or use a container of your choice, and store in a refrigerator. Raspberries keep well refrigerated for a few days.

Freezing raspberries is a great way to keep them long after their season ends. Gently rinse them and pat dry with a paper towel. Arrange the berries in a single layer on a cookie sheet or flat pan, completely cover with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for 1 or 2 hours until they are completely frozen. Once they are frozen, remove plastic wrap and transfer the berries to a freezer container or bag; label and date the container and return to the freezer to store. Frozen raspberries should keep for up to a year.

Tips for Preparing Raspberries

When ready to eat or use in a recipe, remove the berries from the refrigerator and carefully rinse briefly using cold water and gently pat dry. If there are any overly soft or mushy raspberries use those in your smoothie, juice them, or make a purée, sauce or coulis.

If working with frozen raspberries, remove from the freezer and let thaw.

Here is a great tip: adding a bit of lemon juice to the thawed raspberries or just before dehydrating will help to preserve their color. This will help create an acidic environment, which berries need to keep their red color.

 

Serving Suggestions

The possible ways to use raspberries are limitless. The first thing that comes to mind is to pop fresh berries in your mouth, one by one, or be creative with some of these sweet suggestions.

  • Raspberries make a great sauce or coulis for desserts or you could use it as more of a savory sauce, depending upon how much sweetener you use.
  • Make a refreshing drink like a delicious raspberry juice or smoothie.
  • Use it as a topping for any dessert.
  • Try using fresh raspberries to make a flavorful homemade raspberry jam or spread.
  • Sprinkle these delicious berries over a salad to add color and sweet fruity flavor.
  • Make a delicious raspberry dessert such as sorbet, a parfait, or a pie.

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