And raspberries to you too! We know you made that rude noise associated with our name as you waited to make contact with our site – everybody does. Did you know it was actually the strawberries that started that off. They were so jealous of us because we were given the name ‘King of the Berries’ that they started to make that rude noise whenever our backs were turned – and so it became known as a raspberry. It’s not fair is it? Anyway, now that you’re here, let me tell you why we’ve been given the ‘royal’ title.
It’s true that we are berries like strawberries and blackberries, but we have distinctive characteristics of our own. We’re about 1.5-2cm long, cylinder-shaped, with deep red colouring and a sweet flavour. We have cousins in North America which are black or yellow in colour, but in the main we’re ruby red. We actually consist of a collection of tiny fruits, each with its own seed covered in red skin and flesh, which form a helmet-shaped cluster around a small stem. When harvested the cluster comes away from the stem leaving a hollow in the centre.
We’re available from September to April with our best value being from December to February.
• We originated from a wild red berry that is native of Europe, Scandinavia and northeast Asia
• We’re a member of the rose family.
We’re sold by colour not variety.
• You can’t really see our fibre, but our tiny seeds are a great source of dietary fibre (over 6g/100g).
• We’re an excellent source of vitamin C.
• We also contribute some folate and vitamin E.
• We sometimes have a bit less natural sugar than some other fruits and so we’re often served sprinkled with a tiny bit of extra sugar to bring out our flavour. When we’re really ripe, we sweet enough all by ourselves.
• 100g of raspberries has 225kJ.
Our parent plant is small, deciduous, with slightly prickly, erect or arched stems (or canes) up to 1.2-1.6 metres long. The leaf consists of 3-5 small leaflets which are attached along the main leaf stem. Each leaf is green, oval with saw-like edges and a white downy underside.
It’s a perennial plant with roots that can live for up to 10 years. During the first year of growth a cane will produce no fruit. In its second year it will flower, produce berries, then die off before producing new canes. It needs a cool climate with little rain to produce quality berries. It can grow in most soil types providing the ground is not too wet but it does need to be sheltered from the wind. We’re picked by hand when ripe.
Select those of us that are plump and brightly coloured.
Remove us from the punnet. Place us unwashed on paper towel on a plate. Cover with plastic and store in refrigerator. We’re highly perishable. Use as soon as possible.
As I mentioned we’re native to most European countries. Over time, our wild ancestors were brought into gardens and from these plants superior strains were selected and cultivated into the plants we are today.
Raspberries were cultivated in England in the mid 16th century but, as in many other countries, people still like to harvest wild berries. The development of new varieties started in the USA in the early 19th century and is still continuing today.
Raspberries continue to be a very marketable product in Australia, and the consumption of raspberries is steadily growing with over 82 tonnes sold in 1996.
To many people we’re the best and sweetest of all berries. We’re very delicate and must be handled as little as possible. Wash us just before eating.
Eat us fresh or add us to breakfast cereals, ice cream, fruit salad, drinks, puddings, jelly, sherbets or puree us to make a delicious raspberry sauce. Besides eating us on our own try a couple of these interesting combinations.
Fresh Raspberry and Chocolate Tarts
Brush melted chocolate inside small cooked shortcrust pastry tart cases. Lightly beat mascarpone (cheese) with a sprinkle of castor sugar (optional) and vanilla essence until smooth. Spoon into tart and top with fresh raspberries and fresh passionfruit. Yum!
Raspberry and Choc Chip Sundae
Place a few raspberries in the bottom of 4 tall glasses. Add a spoonful of chocolate chip ice cream and crushed macaroons (coconut biscuits). Continue alternating layers until glass is full. Garnish with extra raspberries and roasted sliced almonds.
Whip 300ml thickened cream until firm but not stiff. Stir in 25g sifted icing sugar, 50g toasted muesli, a few drops vanilla essence and 225g raspberries. Serve in glass dishes decorated with extra raspberries and grated chocolate.
Raspberries in Lace Baskets
Make brandy snap biscuits but drape over small greased bowls as soon as they come out of the oven to form a small basket shape. Cool. Turn over and fill with fresh raspberries and a spoonful of whipped cream seasoned with vanilla essence. Sprinkle with grated chocolate. Serve immediately.