Season for Raspberries June – October

Raspberries Described

Related to the rose, this most-vibrantly flavored of the berry family grows on prickly brambles, each berry composed of many drupelets surrounding a hollow, central core – making them classified as an aggregate fruit. There are three main varieties of cultivated raspberries: red (pinkish), black and golden, though you are most likely to encounter the vibrant magenta variety on your raspberry hunt. Raspberries actually also come in other hues such as purple, orange and white, but you would be very lucky to come across such types. All of them are fragrantly sweet with a subtly tart overtone. It’s no surprise that loganberries and boysenberries are hybrids of raspberries.

How to Buy and Store Raspberries

Think of raspberries as a delicacy, and handle them as such. Look for those specimens which are plump and dry, avoiding any that are flattened or broken. Turn the container around and check for any signs of dampness, stains or mold, indicating decay. If so, move on – for the adage one bad apple spoils the bunch also applies to raspberries. You can take the container home, remove the berries and inspect them for any “bad” guys, throwing (or composting!) any moldy or crushed ones. Moisture hastens decay, so make sure not to wash the berries until you are ready to use them (which should be done with gentleness to maintain the texture and flavor). Store unwashed, contained raspberries in the fridge and try to eat within a day or two. 

How to Cook Raspberries

A ripe raspberry can simply melt in the mouth; who needs M&Ms! Many enjoy the unique flavor of raspberries as is, perhaps with a dollop of cream, mixed into yogurt or as an ice cream topping. This berry can be showcased in a multitude of desserts, jams and fruit salads (parfait anyone?). But take your raspberry culinary pursuits even further and use them to concoct your own delicious salad dressings, marinades or sauce, or add the fresh berries as a salad fixing for a tasty dash of color. Throw a few berries into your cocktails or the bottom of a champagne glass for festive eye candy too. 

Health Benefits of Raspberries

Like other berries, raspberries are rich in phytonutrients which have high antioxidant capacity. But red raspberries are reported to have almost 50% higher antioxidant activity than strawberries, three times that of kiwis, and ten times the antioxidant activity of tomatoes. They are unique in their ellagic acid content (belonging to the family of tannins), a dietary supplement that is frequently sold in health food stores but occurs naturally in raspberries. Their anti-cancer activity is useful in preventing damage to cell membranes and DNA and keeping our bodies healthy into old age. Raspberries are also loaded with fiber (thanks to their tiny edible seeds), and are a good source of iron, potassium and vitamin C.

Why Buy Natural and Organic Raspberries

Berries in general incur heavy doses of pesticides in the US, and because of their thin skins and sweetness, they are likely to retain pesticide residues. So when it comes to raspberries and all its berry brothers and sisters, we buy both seasonally (to avoid absurd prices) and organically. It’s been said before, but when it comes to raspberries, you truly can taste the organic difference. When out of season, one option is to buy frozen organic raspberries, for they retain most of their nutrient content even during the freezing process (excepting vitamin C). But nothing compares with a fresh, ripe, local and in-season organic raspberry…

image: K. Kendall