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Raspberries

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Raspberries

According to the ancient Greek myth, all raspberries were once white in color. That was, until the day the God Jupiter was in such a rage that the Nymph Ida, to appease him, went and picked him some wild raspberries. It seems that while she was picking the berries she pricked her finger on the thorns of a raspberry bush. Legend has it that her blood, from that point on, stained all raspberries a bright red color.

Raspberries are said to have been around since prehistoric times but were not cultivated until the 17th century. Botanist John Parkinson first wrote about cultivated red, white and thornless varieties of raspberries in 1629 in 'Paradisi in sole paradisus terrestris'. They grow wild in many parts of the Northern Hemisphere, from the polar regions down through temperate climates of North America, Asia and Europe.   There are different varieties of raspberries ranging in color from black, purple, red, pink, and amber to white. The most common are red (about 90%) followed by amber and black varieties. Harvest time, depending on variety, is spring to late fall. Raspberries are also harvested in Chile and New Zealand and are found in stores during the winter months.

Raspberries are called the 'King' of all the berries. Compared to the strawberry they are stronger in flavor, bolder in color and much more difficult to pick due to its prickly thorns. The strawberry's scent and flavor are mild and sweet whereas Waverley Root in his book "Food" aptly describes the raspberry's scent as being the "most perfumed among its sort of fruits" and its favor as being "rich, exotic, spice-laden and with a hint of musk". 

Raspberries belong to the rose family. Although called a berry, technically it is a cluster of small individual drupelets that are held together by very fine threads (hairs). Each drupelet is an individual fruit with its own seed. The oval or conical shaped raspberry encloses a white or yellow central core (receptacle) that comes away from the raspberry when picked and remains on the plant. This leaves the raspberry with a hollow core.

When buying raspberries look for fragrant, deeply colored, plump and juicy berries without the cores attached. If the core is still attached the raspberry was picked too early and the berry will be sour. Avoid berries that are soft and mushy or have any bruises, black spots or mold. Always check the underside of the container to make sure there are no squashed berries or red stains. 

Raspberries are a very delicate fruit and have a sweet, slightly acidic flavor when first picked. They soften quickly so they are best used immediately but can be stored overnight on a single paper towel lined tray. Do not soak in water as their hollow core will fill with water and they will be less flavorful. 

Raspberries are used extensively in desserts. What restaurant does not serve a raspberry sauce or pur?/font>e? Also used in jams and preserves, ice creams, souffl? and flans, vinegar, liqueurs and brandy.

Recipes:  Apple Crisp with Raspberries

Berry Parfaits

Berry Tarts

Financiers with Raspberries

Frozen Fruit Pops

Raspberry Cream Cheese Tart

Raspberry Puree

Raspberry Swirl Ice Cream

Raspberry & White Chocolate Shortbread

White Chocolate & Raspberry Brittle

YIELD:

1/2 dry pint = 1 cup

FACTS:

- Raspberries are available in the spring and summer months.

- The best tasting raspberries are grown wild.

- Have a sweet but sharp flavor.

- Raspberries prefer a cooler-growing climate.

- Two species of red raspberry: European and North American.

- Raspberries grow on thorny vines that make them difficult to pick and therefore expensive to buy.

- A member of genus Rubus.

- If fresh are not available a good substitute is frozen raspberries.

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