Raspberry Picking Tips
The best season for raspberry picking is fall. There are still some June-bearing varieties such as the popular, ruby-colored Latham. Many have been replaced by everbearers.
Picking fragile raspberry from your own canes is the best way to enjoy it. It’s only possible to pick perfect raspberries and they are prone to deteriorate quickly.
The idea of giving a corner of your garden over to the lanky canes is appealing once you realize how modern varieties are practically carefree.
They produce their main harvest in late summer, but only a small amount of fruit. This eliminates the need for a pruning program as required by traditional summer-fruiting varieties.
Heritage is the most beloved everbearer, with its canes adorned with scarlet fruits from September to frost. Fall Gold is the most well-known yellow variety, and it bears mildly creamy fruit.
However, Harvest Gold, which bears corn-colored berries, as well as the sunset-hued Kiwigold, are also available. Bristol and Cumberland are two of the most popular black raspberries.
Raspberries can be planted or divided in late summer but are more readily available on the retail shelves in spring. This is the best time to harvest their bounty from your home garden.
You don’t need a raspberry patch to join the fun. Instead, prepare the ground for the spring planting. This is not just a routine: Raspberries reproduce underground by suckers and thrive in soil rich in organic matter that has been dug well.
Raised beds are best, but soil can be worked to eight inches deep with compost added. Raspberries can thrive in full sun but they need at least six hours of sunlight each day to grow.
They are most happy where there is shade and sun, such as near the edge of trees. The height of canes can vary depending on their variety.
Raspberry plants are usually grown on trellises, which support the arching canes. However, a fence or wall will work just as well. It is an advantage to have unencumbered access because everbearers can be pruned or even mowed before winter.
You can space plants like a hedge three feet apart. Three to five plants will be sufficient to produce a productive patch.
Raspberries can self-pollinate, meaning they don’t need to be sprayed together in order to produce a good crop. Raspberry berries should yield approximately a quart per foot at peak.
New canes are usually small and stick-like with healthy root systems. Although they may look like sticks, you should not allow them to dry out if you want them to grow and live.
Raspberries, like all perennials, should be watered generously in the first year. It takes at least two years for them to establish. It is important to plant raspberries before the heat of summer sets in.
The early crop of everbearers is made from canes that were sown the previous year. The fall crop is made from growth that was sown the same year.
You can have both raspberry picking harvests by allowing the canes to remain over winter. After the first harvest, trim the tops of any fruiting canes.
You will get a fall crop from the resulting branches and canes. All canes older than one year are taken down in the fall. The canes that were left will be able to produce the next year.
Traditional early-season varieties can be treated in the same manner as traditional ones. After fruiting, you can remove the whole cane.
Other canes can be cut for height and control. You can also plant everbearing varieties, and mow them to the ground following the fall harvest.
After a few years, you can pull the suckers from the ground on a daily basis. They fill in between plants. They can be passed on to friends.
RASPBERRY/ STRAWBERRY SAUCE
(From the Way to Cook, by Julia Child. The sauce for either berry has a variety of uses, including ice cream, puddings, and custards, as well as crepes and other pancakes.
Makes about 2 cups)
1 quart fresh strawberries OR raspberries (or 2 packages of frozen berries, defrosted)
Sugar to taste, a quick-dissolving sugar is recommended, about 1 cup for fresh berries, OR about 1 tablespoon for frozen berries
3 to 4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Puree berries, half the sugar called for, and 3 tablespoons of lemon juice in a food processor or blender.
Continue until it completely dissolved sugar, about 2 to 4 minutes.
Taste carefully to make sure there are no tiny granules.
Puree in more sugar by the spoonful if needed and more lemon juice by droplets.
Sieve if necessary to remove seeds and any seed residue.
Make it ahead and keep it in the fridge for a day or two.
(Makes 8 to 10 servings, and it’s healthy too, with only a little fat in the crust. From Jane Brody’s Good Food Gourmet.)
4 cups raspberries, rinsed, well-drained and divided
1/3 cup of orange juice or apple juice if you prefer more
1/3 envelopes (2 scant tablespoons) unflavored gelatin
1/3 cup sugar
2 cups plain, low-fat yogurt
1 tablespoon honey,
1 tablespoon raspberry vinegar OR fruity vinegar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 tablespoon sugar (optional)
1/4 cup butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350F.
To make the crust, in a small bowl, thoroughly combine crust ingredients. Press into a large pie plate, making sure that sides are covered up to the rim of the plate.
Place pie plate in a hot oven and bake 10 to 15 minutes, or until light brown. Set crust on a rack to cool before filling it.
To make the filling, select enough of the best-looking berries to make 1 cup and set aside.
Place orange or apple juice in a small bowl or measuring cup and sprinkle in the gelatin.
Let mixture stand 5 minutes or until gelatin has softened.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine 1 heaping cup of remaining berries with the sugar.
Cook berries, stirring them, over medium-low heat for 3 to 5 minutes, or until sugar dissolves.
Remove skillet from heat and add softened gelatin, stirring ingredients until it dissolves gelatin.
Set mixture aside to cool.
Add to a mixer or food processor the yogurt, honey, vinegar, vanilla, and raspberry gelatin syrup (don’t worry if it’s still quite warm).
Process mixture until smooth and well-blended.
Place remaining raspberries (not those you reserved previously) along the bottom of the cooled crust.
The pie looks especially beautiful when sliced if you stand each berry on its rim with the berry hole down.
Spoon yogurt mixture over berries and place pie in the fridge for about 1 hour.
Then decorate the top with reserved berries. Consider arranging berries along the outside and making a second circle in the middle of the pie.
Chill 2 hours, or until very firm.
HANDLE THEM WITH CARE
RASPBERRIES have always been a luxury. Soldiers in the Crusades wrote poems about them as they approached Jerusalem. The berries, native to Asia, were first cultivated in England and France in the 1600s.
There are several hundred varieties, but the consumer needs only to know they’re the most fragile berries.
Pick with a gentle hand and use only the firm, dry berries with good coloring, according to the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food information. Avoid overly soft berries and berries with any mildew.
They’re so perishable that any juice stains in the container’s bottom show that at least some will have to be discarded.
Refrigerate and use as soon as possible. Gently rinse under cold water before use and carefully drain on paper towels before serving or using recipes.
They contain a significant amount of fiber and vitamin C. They’re also high in iron and contain a moderate amount of magnesium.