Thursday, April 5, 2012


I was given starts of black raspberries by my mother many years ago.   The birds get more than I do and the plants need a lot of care, but I have enjoyed them in my yard except when a thorn bites me.  They demand more room each year in that they spread and the old canes must be pulled each year in that they are dead and will not produce again.  I find new starts all over my yard each spring.  Birds might be helping me out there by dropping the seeds here and there.   I must confess that Josh has been a God send, in that he has cared for the bushes more than I have in last couple of years. 

Raspberries are native (though in different types) to regions of both Europe and North America.  Raspberries are those brambles in which the small, knobby, thimble-shaped fruit separates readily from the core, unlike the similar-looking Blackberry, of which the fruit is firmly attached to the core. Raspberries are generally thought to be only bright red, but in reality can also be dark blue (black), yellow or white.

The brambles grow wild in neglected land, hedgerows and woodland edges in many regions of the world; they are also cultivated, but not on the scale of many other fruits, because the inputs per volume are high enough to make them a luxury food.

Delicious when eaten out of hand, the fruit is also used in pies, syrups, flavorings, jams, jellies and other preserves. A herb tea can made from the dried leaves. The shoots and roots are also edible. Raspberries are rich in phenolic phytochemicals.

The leaves and roots are said to be anti-inflammatory, astringent, decongestant, ophthalmic, oxytocic and stimulant. Teas from the leaves and roots are often taken for gynecological problems. Externally, the tea can be used as a gargle to treat tonsillitis and mouth inflammations, and as a soothing poultice for several external ailments.


The raspberry has been cultivated as a fruit over Europe and Asia  going back to the fourth century. The best European varieties were introduced  as early as the apple, pear, and grape. But like the European grape it was soon found to be unreliable, except in a few favored localities. Gradually by selection and hybridizing we have developed a number of red, black, and yellow varieties that compare favorably with the best of the Old World. It is now a popular commercial fruit in all parts of the US. 


One cup of raspberries has only 70 calories but provides 50% of a day's requirement of vitamin C, 32% of fiber, 6% of folate, and 5% of potassium, and all with only 1 gram of fat (none of it saturated or transfats) and no cholesterol.
Raspberries rank in the top ten of fruits and vegetables for antioxidant content. Antioxidants are substances in food which can prevent or slow oxidative damage. Heart disease, macular degeneration, diabetes, cancer, and other diseases are all caused by oxidation. Antioxidants can help immune defense and lower risk of these diseases.
There are two main types of raspberries, summer bearing and fall bearing. If you are unsure right now, which ones you have, treat them as summer bearing until they finish next year, and at least if they turn out to be fall bearing you won't have had a year without any berries.

Fall bearing bushes are the easiest to prune, as you do not need to decide what to keep and what to not. After the berries have all been harvested, cut or mow the whole row down to ground level. They will grow back up, and bear again in the fall.  Mine are not fall bearing and require more care.

Summer bearing raspberries take two years to complete their cycle, and therefore, if you were to cut all of yours to the ground now, without knowing if they were summer or fall, you could end up without any berries for a year.

The young, green canes poke out of the ground, and grow over the summer to quite a height (these are called floricanes). In the fall, some people let these branches continue growing as high as they want, and others top them at a more manageable height so that it is easier picking. Topping them also encourages bilateral branches from the sides of the canes, giving you a higher yield of berries.

In the spring, your canes that grew nice and tall over the past summer, but did not bear any berries should be left in the garden. They will now bloom this year, and bear lots of berries for you.

Then in the fall, you will see that you now have two types of canes. (if you just moved in and the raspberries haven't been taken care of, you probably have this stage now). Some are the nice new green canes that have not had berries this year, and some may already be dying or dead, but even if they are not yet, their stem will be brown or a greyish color. These old canes need to be cut out right to the ground. They are finished and will not bear fruit again. You should just be left with green canes (floricanes) again.

Your raspberries will continue this ongoing cycle, year after year if you have Summer bushes.  I would highly recommend you pick the Fall if you are deciding to plant raspberries since they do not need as much care. 

Freezing  Raspberries

In almost every way that you would use fresh raspberries you can use frozen.  Let frozen berries stand a few minutes at room temperature before adding to cold cereals, stirring into yogurt, scattering over salads or enjoying as is.
For all other preparations, you can use the berries right out of the bag, in their frozen state. Stir them into hot oatmeal or other cereal. Add to baked goods such a brownies, muffins, cakes. Drop several frozen berries into cold drinks, such as lemonade or iced tea. You can even use frozen raspberries to make raspberry freezer jam.


Raspberry Freezer Jam

Makes 5 (8-ounce) containers
Need a quick hostess or holiday gift? Or something special for the brunch table? Or just a nice treat for a family breakfast? You can stir up this easy freezer jam in just minutes, and anytime of the year thanks to the convenience frozen raspberries.
3 bags of 12-ounce bags raspberries or 36 oz of fresh raspberries
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 (1.59 ounce) packet no cook freezer jam fruit pectin
Turn raspberries into large bowl and let stand 30 to 45 minutes or until berries are thawed  unless you are using fresh and mash slightly. Mash berries just until most are crushed.  In small bowl, stir together sugar and pectin. Add sugar/pectin mixture to berries and stir for 3 minutes, until blended and mixture is evenly mixed. Spoon into 6 clean jam jars, plastic freezer jars or other small containers, leaving about 1 inch of head room at top. Cover with lids. Let stand 30 minutes. Refrigerate for immediate use (up to 3 weeks) or freeze.

Raspberry Coconut Panna Cotta

The traditional Panna Cotta is an Italian dessert of cream, thickened with gelatin. This variation relies on yogurt instead of cream, and adds the sweet-tartness of raspberries and the tropical flavor of coconut. You can make this easy, but impressive dessert in advance.
2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1 /2 cup sugar
2 cups raspberries
1 can (14 ounces) light coconut milk
2 cups non-fat Greek-style yogurt
1 /2 cup flaked coconut, optional
Spray a 4-cup mold or soufflé dish with pan coating or coat with butter.  In small bowl, stir together sugar and gelatin. In small saucepan over medium high heat, heat 1 cup of the coconut milk until just simmering. Stir hot coconut milk into gelatin mixture until gelatin dissolves. In blender or food processor, blend remaining coconut milk, raspberries and yogurt until smooth. Add gelatin mixture and blend. Turn into prepared mold or dish. Cover top with plastic wrap. Chill several hours or overnight. If using mold, to unmold fill a large bowl with hot water. Quickly dip mold into hot water, just up to rim. Run tip of sharp knife around edge of mold to loosen. Place serving plate on top of mold and invert to unmold.  Makes 6 to 8 servings
Garnish with additional coconut and raspberries, if you wish.
Note: you may omit the coconut and replace the coconut milk with whole or 2% milk.
Raspberry Yogurt Muffins

Adding raspberry yogurt gives double the raspberry flavor and a wonderful texture to these easy muffins.  No need to thaw the raspberries – just toss them in right from the freezer. If you prefer giant muffins, use the jumbo muffin cups and make half a dozen. 
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 carton (6 ounces) raspberry yogurt
1/3 cup oil
1 egg
1 cup raspberries
Preheat oven to 400˚F.  Spray, grease or put paper liners in 12 (2 ¾ inch) muffin cups.  In medium mixing bowl, stir together dry ingredients.  In small bowl, beat together yogurt, oil and egg.  Stir yogurt mixture and raspberries into dry mixture until almost blended.  Add raspberries and stir until batter is just blended.  Do not over mix.  Spoon into prepared muffin cups. I like to use an ice cream scoop to make all of the muffins the same size.  Bake until nicely browned, about 20 minutes.  Makes 1 dozen 

Raspberry Cobbler

You can have this old-fashioned dessert in the oven in a matter of minutes so it’s great for a weeknight supper or a pot luck. (FYI, in farm country many of us still use the word supper for our evening meal and dinner for our noon meal.  It comes from feeding large meals at noon to working men coming in out of the fields.) Lemon zest and juice in the biscuit topping is a perfect partner for the berries.
2 bags (12-ounces)  or 24 oz of fresh raspberries
2/3 cup sugar
3 tbsp. quick cooking tapioca
2 lemons, zested and juiced, divided
2 cups biscuit mix
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar
Preheat oven to 350°F.  Butter or spray a 1 ½ quart baking dish.  Turn raspberries into baking dish.  In small bowl, stir together sugar, tapioca, half the lemon zest and juice.  Stir into raspberries in baking dish.  Bake until berry mixture is beginning to bubble around edges, about 20 to 25 minutes.  Makes 6 servings.

Meanwhile, in large bowl, stir together biscuit mix, sugar and remaining lemon zest and juice.  Stir in milk just until mixture is moistened.  Drop biscuit mixture by rounded tablespoons onto hot berry mixture and bake until topping is nicely browned, about 30 to 40 minutes.  Serve warm or cold.  You can top with whipped cream or ice cream.
Raspberry Fruit Soup

Fruit soup is a long-time Scandinavian favorite that’s now appearing on the menus of many fancy restaurants. You can use almost any other fruit you like with the lightly cinnamoned berries, and you can also serve the soup cold. Bring portions to the table in coffee cups or bowls, for dessert or as part of a brunch menu.
1 (12-ounce) bag or fresh raspberries
3 tbsp. honey
1 stick cinnamon
1 cup frozen sliced peaches
1 cup diced pineapple, or banana or apple
Sour cream
In medium saucepan over low heat, heat raspberries, honey and cinnamon stick just until hot. Remove cinnamon stick. Stir in remaining fruits and heat through.
Spoon into cups and top with dollops of sour cream .  Makes about 3 1/2 cups

Raspberry Salsa

A little sweet, a little sour, a little spicy, and a little crunchy – this salsa is a perfect accompaniment to pork, chicken, fish or beef.  It’s also great over sliced fresh fruit or as accompaniment to a cheese tray.  If you prepare and refrigerate the salsa in advance the jicama and apple will turn a pretty pink, from the raspberries.
2 cups diced peeled jicama (Mexican potato)  Can substitute firm pears
1 tart-sweet apple, cored and diced
1 medium jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
3 green onions, sliced
1/3 cup raspberry vinegar
1 tbsp. grated fresh ginger
1 12-ounce) bag  or fresh raspberries
In large bowl toss apple and jicama with vinegar.  Add all remaining ingredients and toss to blend.  Serve at once or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.  Makes 6 cups or 8 servings.

Watermelon Raspberry Lemonade

6 cups watermelon, cubed and seeded
1/4 cup raspberries
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 cup club soda

Place the watermelon and raspberries in a blender; cover and blend until smooth. Strain through fine mesh strainer into pitcher. Stir together the sugar and lemon juice until the sugar dissolves; add to strained liquid; refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour. When ready to serve, add the club soda and pour over ice cubes.

Raspberry Vinegar

In a medium, nonreactive (No aluminum) saucepan over low heat, warm the vinegar just until it begins to give off steam (do not bring to a boil). Put 1 pint of the raspberries into a fine sieve fitted over a sterilized 1/2-gallon clamp jar.  Pour the warm vinegar over the berries and let it run into the jar, then add the berries to the jar.  Allow the mixture to cool 20 to 30 minutes to room temperature, then seal and shake the jar gently.  Set the jar out of direct sunlight and away from heat to steep for 4 days, shaking it every so often. While steeping, the vinegar will take on a raspberry hue and the fruit will lose most of its color.  Strain the mixture through a fine sieve into a large batter bowl with a handle or into a large, nonreactive saucepan.  Rinse the jar and return the strained vinegar to it. Rinse the bowl or saucepan.  Dump the fruit and rinse the sieve. Dampen a flat-bottom coffee filter, then line the sieve with the filter and fit it over the bowl or saucepan.  Transfer the vinegar to flasks or bottles. Discard fruit. If you wish, spear 6 to 8 whole raspberries on a wooden skewer and put the skewer into the container before filling.  The vinegar should be ready to use immediately, with a shelf life of at least 1 year. 

Variation:  For Raspberry Lemon Thyme Vinegar, place 1 sprig fresh lemon thyme in a flask or bottle before adding the vinegar. Fill, seal, and steep out of direct sunlight and away from heat for 1 week before using or shipping.

Raspberry Vinaigrette

1/4  cup walnut oil or salad oil
1/4  cup raspberry or wine vinegar
1  tbsp. snipped fresh  parsley
2  tsp. honey

In a screw-top jar combine walnut oil or salad oil, raspberry or wine vinegar, snipped fresh parsley, and honey. Cover and shake well. Chill up to 2 days. Makes about 2/3 cup (ten 1-tablespoon servings). You may also add finely chopped walnuts or pecan if you use a canola oil.

Raspberry Lettuce Salad

Use the above vinaigrette on a lettuce mix with some fresh raspberries, small boiled shrimp, walnuts.  I only make this once or twice a year, but this is a terrific salad and worthy of proudly serving to company.  

This is a short chapter because I seldom buy the very expensive little berries because of the cost and the birds harvest more than I do.  As it is getting harder and harder for me to care for my large garden, I have had to make hard choices and last year do to the high maintenance of growing my raspberries and low yields because of the birds and beasts, I decided to cut mine all down.  I have downsized all of my garden a great deal.  Each year I had more bushes and less berries making my decision a little easier.  You can buy nets to put over them as my neighbor has done, but in talking to him he said the critters still get under it and steal from him leaving him little also.  

Tomorrow I'll be picking grapes.  

Be happy and may God bless you and yours.

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