By Craig Kahlke and Kathy Dischner
One of the favorite types of berries for many is the wonderful raspberry. You simply cannot beat the intertwining of strong and subtle flavors of this local fruit. Unfortunately, these flavorful gems from a storage standpoint are the least-hardy of the commercially available year-round berries you find in supermarkets. This is because if the raspberries were picked at their peak flavor, they would crumble, fall apart, and be inedible within a few short days. The weight of the berries alone causes problems, a reason for the shallow containers in which they are picked/shipped/sold. This is all the more reason to purchase these berries locally, such as at a farmer’s market or a roadside stand when they are available. They will be at peak flavor. Better yet, visit a farm and pick your own!
Raspberries are cousins to both blackberries and strawberries and range in color from bright red to black. History informs us that the Romans began the domestication of raspberries around the fourth century A.D, and spread raspberry cultivation across Europe. The British are credited with preserving raspberries in jams and jelly form and for bringing the plants to New York in the mid 1700’s.
Folks may be interested to know that the summer-bearing type of raspberry that you can find locally now produces an abundance of fruit on second-year canes (or wood) that are called floricanes. These fruit are produced in a relatively short period of time not more than a few weeks for each variety.
There are also double or ever-bearing plants, which also bear some fruit on first-year canes that are called primocanes in the late summer and early fall, as well as the summer crop on the floricanes. Growers in upstate NY and elsewhere are starting to further extend the season in which this tasty fruit is available, by using high tunnels.
High tunnels are unheated greenhouse-type structures that use plastic to keep out rain, reduce the wind, and allow crops to be planted earlier and mature faster. The plastic allows the ground to warm faster in the spring, allowing earlier planting. In addition, bumblebees used for pollination just love the environment inside the tunnels. And raspberries especially benefit from the excellent pollination and the fact that more berries stay intact because of the lack of damage by wind and birds.
Diseases made worse by rainfall are also reduced in the high tunnels. The sun’s heat and energy can be captured later in the fall and further keep later-season varieties producing excellent fruit longer.
NUTRTIONAL INFO/HEALTH BENEFITS
Raspberries are good to excellent sources of fiber, vitamin C, phosphorus, manganese, and selenium. A one cup serving of raspberries is only 64 calories.
By weight they contain about 8 grams or about one-third of the RDA for fiber, and over 50% of the RDA for vitamin C. Contents of B vitamins 1-3, folic acid, magnesium, copper and iron are considerable in raspberries as well.
Like many other colored fruits and vegetables, they contain significant amounts of antioxidants in the form of the chemical class called polyphenols, which contain anthocyanin pigments linked to potential health protection against several human diseases.
Raspberries rank near the top of all fruits for antioxidant strength, with an ORAC value (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) of about 4900 per 100 grams, including them among the top-ranked ORAC fruits. Cranberries and wild blueberries have around 9000 ORAC units and apples average 2800.
There are and have been quite a few clinical studies to date trying to prove these beneficial effects in humans.
Antioxidant and anti-cancerous (chemopreventive) effects against cancer have been linked to the amount of phenolics and flavonoids in various foods including raspberries.
Raspberry leaf tea is helpful for treating nausea associated with morning sickness.
The brittle nature of this wonder fruit means they have a shelf life of only 1-2 days (3 at most!) in the refrigerator. To store, remove any bruised or moldy berries from the container. Refrigerate and consume quickly.
So why not preserve them by freezing them, for later use in smoothies, muffins, on pancakes, etc.?
A freezing method for raspberries, as seen on http://www.ehow.com
1. Clean and dry the raspberries. To clean this fragile berry, add a handful at a time to a bowl filled with clean water. Swirl around gently and scoop out with a slotted spoon. Lay on a clean cloth to dry. Continue until all the berries are clean.
2. Spread the berries onto a clean cookie sheet. If needed, use more than one cookie sheet so the berries are not crowded together.
3. Place the cookie sheet(s) into the freezer. Freeze for about 1 hour. Freezing the berries on a cookie sheet before placing them in Ziploc storage bags keeps the berries separate, so it’s easier to take out a handful at a time instead of having clumps of berries stuck together.
4. Remove the cookie sheet(s) from the freezer and place the frozen raspberries into the aforementioned Ziploc storage bags.
5. Put the Ziploc bags back into the freezer. Use the berries within 6 to 8 months to avoid freezer burn.
RASPBERRY RECIPES Provided By Kathy Dischner, MSED, RD, Nutrition Team Leader, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Onondaga County
Fresh Raspberry Parfait
For a treat anytime – breakfast, snack or for a summer dessert try a fresh raspberry parfait. For a visual as well as taste treat, layer fresh, washed raspberries alternating with spoonfuls of your favorite yogurt in a clear glass dish or parfait glass. Sprinkle low-fat granola, whole-grain cereal, or crushed graham crackers over the top.
Below is a luscious summer dessert that pairs raspberries with both peaches and kiwi fruit. It can be prepared and refrigerated ahead of time.
Raspberry-Peach Melba Tart
Servings: 10. Preparation and cooking time (excluding baking the pie shell), 25-30 minutes.
1 pie or tart shell (try whole-wheat) , cooked and cooled.
8 ounces of fat-free cream cheese
4 ounces of low-fat cream cheese
½ cup confectioner’s sugar
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1, 6 ounce can peach nectar
2 kiwis, thinly sliced
1 large peach, peeled and thinly sliced
An 8-ounce basket of fresh, ripe raspberries
In a small bowl, beat together cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla. Spread the mixture onto the cooled crust. Chill for about 30 minutes. In a small pan, stir together sugar and cornstarch. Gradually stir in peach nectar. Cook over medium-high heat stirring constantly until the mixture thickens and begins to bubble. Remove from heat and cool for 5-10 minutes. Use a pastry brush to apply a thin layer of glaze over the cream cheese. Add the kiwi slices to cover the top. Add another thin layer of glaze. Add peach slices and glaze. Top with raspberries and additional glaze, if desired. Chill until ready to serve.
Per slice; serves 10. Calories: 220; Total fat: 9 grams; Saturated fat: 3 grams; Protein: 6 grams; Sodium: 180 mg.; Total carbohydrates: 30 grams; Fiber: 3 grams; sugar 19 grams.
Tart recipe and interesting facts, excerpted from “101 Foods That Could Save Your Life” , David Grotto, RD, LPN, Bantam Mass.
Visit your local farmer’s market, or better yet, search out a pick-your-own farm that has raspberries and other home-grown produce in your region. Locally grown produce is riper, more flavorful, nutritious, and less expensive in many cases than produce that is grown elsewhere. This may especially be true this season, with high fuel prices expected to raise the cost of produce trucked in from long-distance locations. In addition, buying local supports and sustains your local farms.
For more agriculture and nutrition information, call your local Cornell Cooperative Extension office. Go to http://cce.cornell.edu to find your local office.
The series is written by Craig Kahlke and Robert Hadad, both of Cornell Cooperative Extension. Kahlke works in fruit quality management for Cornell’s Lake Ontario Fruit Program. Hadad is a fresh market specialist with the Cornell Vegetable Program.
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