Hello my dear readers,
And here we are, June already. Is incredible how fast these months passed by.
Are you ready to discover another ingredient of our kitchens?
Today let’s discover a fruit that I love and it reminds me of my childhood, let’s discover the raspberries.
My grandma used to have a lot of raspberries shrubs in her garden, lucky me ☺️
You will find in this post:
origins & history of raspberries
how to grow raspberries
how to choose and buy raspberries
seasonality & availability of raspberries
how to store raspberries
use of raspberries
legends & curiosities
And that being said, let’s start!
Origins and history of raspberries
What are raspberries?
Raspberries are the fruits of the Rubus genus plant, belonging to the Rosaceae family, same as as apples, pears, cherries, peaches, almonds, plums, medlars and apricots.
The fruit look like a large blackberry, conical in shape, composed of numerous small drupes, with a very intense colour between red and deep pink, and a pleasant and unmistakable aroma.
Area of origin
It is a plant native to continental Europe and Asia Minor, mainly grown in North America, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, France and Scotland.
It typically grows in mountain areas up to one thousand five hundred meters high. It is found in shady woods, at the edges of roads or in places rich in nitrogenous substances, and is harvested from May until autumn.
It is easily cultivated in temperate regions and has a tendency to spread rapidly.
Raspberry has been part of the human diet for tens of thousands of years. Archaeological finds found in present-day Israel show that Paleolithic men (ca. 20,000 years ago) fed on them.
Rubus idaeus, owes its scientific name to the red of its fruits and to the fact that it was particularly abundant on Mount Ida in Greece. Dioscorides (1st century) called it “bramble of Mount Ida”.
It is believed that the fruits were also cultivated by the Romans who most likely spread them throughout the Empire.
Raspberries often appear in medieval art as a symbol of kindness, perhaps due to the blood red color of the juice, associated with the concepts of energy and nutrition.
Raspberry, the fruit of the forest, red in colour and with a sweet-sour taste is among the most popular berries in food preparations.
It has countless properties especially for pregnant women. It is believed since ancient times that raspberries avert the risks of abortion, in fact they tone the muscles of the uterus and improve contractions.
The raspberry begins to be cultivated in the Mediterranean areas, precisely in Italy and Greece in the 16th century.
Two of the three largest raspberry producers in the world, Russia and Poland, are European. The Italian production is, in comparison, very small.
The name of this fruit is descended from some of the Greek term “lightning” or “shine”. This is because the raspberries, red in colour, would shine brightly among the leaves.
How to grow raspberries
Raspberry is a thorny shrub of the Rosaceae family that in the first year has simple and erect stems, which become arched and branched from the second year of age. The plant can reach 2 meters in height. They are usually planted in rows and grown along metal wires. It has green leaves in the upper part and white-tormented on the lower part, divided into 3-7 serrated ovate leaves.
The raspberry flowers are white, small, gathered in clusters, they appear the second year in spring-summer. Flowering normally takes place between May and June while the composite fruit ripens in late summer or early autumn.
Sunny or semi-shady place, preferably cool, preferably with the lower part of the plant away from direct sunlight. Raspberries don’t fear the cold.
In general, rain is sufficient, although it is advisable to water in the summer, before harvesting the fruits.
Raspberries love soft soils, rich in organic matter and very well drained. They are planted in the autumn, after having enriched the soil with mature manure; after planting the stems are cut at about 20-30 cm from the ground. In autumn organic or slow release fertilizer need to be supplied.
Usually occurs by division of tufts, in fact the young basal stems root easily once separated from the mother plant.
Best of all, once established, most types of raspberry will continue to produce fruit for 10-15 years, if not longer.
The best time of day for harvesting is in the morning when they are at the right degree of ripeness, since once detached from the plant, they no longer ripen.
At the beginning of its cultivation, there were several hundreds of varieties of this plant, then over time, for growing needs, the only plants more resistant to climate and pests were selected and kept. In addition to the more typical red raspberries, there are also special yellow-white raspberries on the market.
The raspberry plant has a very particular behavior: there are some that bloom and bear fruit only once a year, and others that bloom twice a year. In any case, both have a two-year cycle, and therefore it is as if, every two years, they regenerate completely.
From the variety of plant with one harvest per year, derive large raspberries that have particular characteristics, for example without thorns, more suitable for industry, and for being frozen.
The variety that is able to produce the fruit twice per year, in June-July on the branches of the previous season and between September and October on the new branches, they are very productive plants and able to adapt in any environment and to produce much less delicate and resistant fruits.
The raspberry has several varieties, divided between non-flourishing (Mailing promise, Zeva, Titan, Summer and Canby) and flourishing (Heritage, Rossana and September).
The Kwanza varieties (grown in Morocco and Spain and widespread throughout Europe), Glen Moy, Ruby (suitable for a variety of environments) and Glen Prosen (suitable if you choose to freeze them) are increasingly popular on the market raspberries to consume them out of season.
Raspberries taste better when are freshly picked. When ripe they are easily torn from the receptacle, a white cone that is left behind on the bush. Its soft and velvety fruits are sweet and juicy and melt on the tongue, leaving the hard seeds on the tongue which are broken and chewed.
Incidentally, raspberry is not really a berry, but a stone fruit, a composite fruit made up of small drupes each containing only one seed enclosed in a hard shell. On the other hand, berries usually contain more than one seed.
How to choose and buy raspberries
Raspberry is very delicate, suffers from heat and from the contact with other raspberries.
When you purchase them, they must be firm and bright, not withered.
Raspberry is a soft and very delicate fruit, and therefore it is easy to see if the fruit you are about to buy is not of great quality.
The berry must be bright red in color, with no darker spots, and a very slight almost transparent hair against the light should be noted.
Seasonality and availability of raspberries
Raspberries are typically summer fruits, which exploit mild temperatures to grow and thrive on the branches of the shrubs.
The best months to consume them are those of June, July and September.
Raspberries can be easily found fresh when it is their season, in the places where they are grown.
Especially out of season they have a fairly high price but are still available.
How to store raspberries
Raspberries should not be exposed to the sun or remain at room temperature for a long time.
In the refrigerator they are kept for about two days.
The raspberry can also be frozen in its natural state just purchased and at the time of use it can be avoided to thaw them completely to best preserve their shape.
Do you need to wash your raspberries?
You must avoid washing them in order not to damage them and eliminate the dented ones.
Use of raspberries
In the kitchen, fresh raspberry garnishes many sweet preparations: ice cream, yogurt, fruit salads, crepes, cakes and pies.
They are also widely used for the production of jams, syrups and jellies and the puree is particularly suitable for the preparation of puddings and Bavarians.
The best fruits are usually destined for quick freezing to obtain a quality product intended mainly for pastry, the ice cream and yogurt industry.
They are also used to flavor liqueurs and grappas, fermented drinks and brandy.
With raspberries in Valle d’Aosta Italy, even a very renowned and sought after vinegar is prepared.
The lower quality fruits are used industrially for the production of natural dyes for cosmetics.
In the cosmetic field, the active ingredients of raspberry are used in vitaminizing masks for sensitive skin.
In addition, raspberry is also one of the most used herbal therapies.
Legends and curiosities
In the past, raspberry was recommended to pregnant women as it was thought that the intake of this fruit averted the risk of miscarriage.
The Cimbri hung raspberry branches on doors and windows against adversity and even when they found themselves having a dead man at home, to prevent the spirit of the deceased from returning to their home.
Raspberry in Germany is called the “fawn berry”, with a clear allusion to the woodland habitat of this plant.
A South Tyrolean tale about this fruit is also known: one day two children in search of mushrooms met an old man with a grim-faced face who complained in the woods: he had torn clothes and skin with horseflies. They took pity on his condition and decided to give him a suit made by them, to protect himself from insects. The boy found an animal skin with which the girl sewed a suit. When it was ready they brought it to him; the man was amazed but happy: “thank you, I have a suit again, you freed me! I have nothing, but I leave you a magic: you just have to say: “Raspberry!” and you will always find them in large quantities! ”. That said, the man disappeared into the trees. The kids did not forget. Years passed and the girl became a curled and shriveled old woman who went from village to village to sell raspberries, while people wondered how that poor little woman could find raspberries even in the coldest winter months.
Do you like raspberries? Are one of my favourite 😉
Join me next time and we will see raspberries nutrition facts, benefits and contraindications.
See you next time!
Thank you all for reading.
And if you would like to discover more about our food, you may enjoy my previous posts
Wish you a wonderful day!
And please stay at home and stay safe!
Photo credit: Pixabay and Canva edited by Popsicle Society