It’s raspberry season again!
Growing up, the summer holidays of Memorial Day, Independence and Labor Day brought a short break from gardening and farm work. There was always the family barbecue, a few fireworks and homemade ice cream. Fresh ice cream in hand, my siblings, cousins and I would head for the berry patches, dropping in our favorite selection from what was ripening on the thorny bushes – raspberries in all colors, boysenberries and blackberries – too many delicious choices. My personal favorites were the blackcaps.
Native to the Western Hemisphere and parts of Asia, raspberries are now heavily cultivated in America and in Europe. Their colors range from a golds to pink, red and black. How can you tell the difference between raspberries and blackberries? Easy – raspberries, when ripe will pull easily from the branch leaving behind the ‘rasp.’ Boysenberries and blackberries come off the branches with their edible white center still in them.
Nutritional profile of raspberries
Nutritionally speaking, raspberries are an excellent low calorie food packed with fiber, flavonoids, ellagic acid, and vitamin C. They carry moderate amounts of niacin, folic acid, patothenic acid, B2 and B6. A one cup serving holds barely 70 calories, 1 gram of fat, 7 grams of sugar, 15 grams of carbohydrates and about 10 grams of fiber. For those of you who need to get in more fiber (most Americans) it is well worth it to add raspberries to your diet. Finally, there’s the color – nature’s colorful foods are filled with flavonoids and other antioxidants making them an excellent source to help guard against cancers.
The Energetics of raspberries
Raspberries are neutral in temperature – meaning they can be eaten by anyone, whether the person has patterns of cold or heat. Sweet raspberries enter the Stomach and Spleen helping to tonify the Earth element. Their slightly sour nature astringes, helping to tighten and move out excess leaking conditions like excess sweating and frequent urination. They are especially beneficial in treating frequent urination at night. They clean and nourish the Blood deeply. They enter into the Liver and Kidneys, remove toxins and regulate menstruation. Want to know more about food energetics? Get your chart here.
Raspberry is lovely for ladies – Like the raspberry leaf, the fruit a wonderful for women. Though subtler, raspberry helps to tone the pelvic and uterus muscles–wonderful for preventing and improving conditions of prolapse, incontinence or excess discharge and frequent nighttime urination. It also aids in regulating menses, relieving cramps and irritability.
Ways to use raspberries
Raspberries are delicate – Raspberries are very delicate and will perish quickly – try to use them within a day or two. Eat them fresh. Toss them over fresh yogurt or onto pancakes.
Freeze them – An easy way to save and use them. Rinse and gently dry the berries. Lay them out on a cookie sheet and freeze. After frozen, move them to a freezer safe container. Use later for sauces, desserts or add them to summer lemonades instead of ice cubes. You can add a little lemon juice before freezing if you want to maintain a brighter color, but it’s not necessary.
Make them into a sauce or add them to drinks – Raspberries looking a little too smooshed be presented as a “pretty” dish? Don’t let them go to waste. Toss the berries into a small saucepan and gently heat with a little water. Add balsamic, rosemary and a kiss of sweetener and salt to make sauce to go over a strong flavored meat like lamb or bison. Toss them into your lemonade or summer spritzers. Make a jam or jelly.
Preserve them as jam or jelly – It may take a little more time and a little more equipment, but it can be well worth it to have their delicious flavor anytime of year or to give as gifts. I love making jam, however time isn’t always on my side. I often opt for making just making fresh jam when I want it from frozen or fresh berries. Add berries to saucepan and cook over medium heat, adding a little water at a time until they break down. A little honey or maple syrup if needed, maybe a little cinnamon or nutmeg. Most fruits have pectin in them and will thicken a little as they cool.
Dry them –Drying will shift their nature to slightly warming. Wash and drain the berries and dehydrator instructions – or, just lay them out for a few days away from moisture and where air can circulate easily. Dried raspberries are great for hiking, an easy snack, in granola and as lunch treats.
Don’t let the berry season fly by without getting some lovely raspberries.