The raspberry is a dark colored fruit that grows in aggregate. In other words, a single raspberry grows as a group of little fruits. The little fruits called drupelets are attached to a core. Only the drupelets are harvested and the core remains attached to the bush so raspberries have a hollow center. The drupelets have a smooth skin.
The raspberries grow on a prickly bush that grows long stems called canes. On the canes are found the clusters of raspberries.
There are many varieties of raspberries (Rubus idaeus) grown in the United States and Europe. Though red is the most common color, there are also varieties with other colors like black, purple, and yellow. Raspberries are grown by farmers and grow wild. This fruit can have a range of flavors from lightly sweet to tart depending on the ripeness.
Choosing the Best
Mature red raspberries have a very dark color. When buying raspberries, it’s important to check for mildew or mold. Juicy raspberries do not last long after picking and aging fruit will rot quickly. Choose berries that are firm and dry and do not show signs of damage and have not been crushed. You also want to buy berries that have a rich even color that does not look faded.
Raspberries should look plump at the time of purchase.
Raspberries must be refrigerated quickly. They should be eaten within 2 days of purchase and the sooner the better because they have a short shelf life.
- Check for damaged raspberries and discard
- Place in ventilated container (can use original carton)
- Place container in the refrigerator
You will not wash the raspberries until you are ready to eat them to avoid promoting the growth of mold. Once mold grows it will spread rapidly and quickly ruin a whole container of the fruit. In addition, you want to handle the raspberries as little as possible because they are fragile with their hollow cores.
Raspberries can be frozen as follows:
- Gently rinse in cold water being sure to avoid crushing any berries
- Let water drain
- Pat dry
- Discard damaged berries
- Place the remaining raspberries on a cookie sheet
- Once frozen, move the raspberries to a plastic bag in the freezer
Frozen raspberries can last up to 12 months. When they are thawed they will be softer than fruit that has not been frozen, but the nutritional quality and flavor will still be intact.
Preparing and Cooking
Fresh raspberries must be handled gently because they can be easily damaged or crushed. To prepare raspberries for eating or cooking is simple.
- Put raspberries in a strainer
- Gently run cold water over them
- Remove any debris or crushed berries
If you froze the raspberries they will need to be thawed completely unless they will be cooked in a recipe like raspberry pie or cobbler. If the frozen raspberries will be cooked, they can be used frozen.
Raspberries are delicious in fruit salads and desserts like cakes, pies and ice cream. Raspberry muffins and scones are popular breakfast foods. Many people will sprinkle raspberries over a bowl of cereal or oatmeal. They can be added to protein or milkshakes too. Raspberries are turned into jam, jellies and sauces too.
The raspberry contains ellagic acid which is an antioxidant element. It’s a phytonutrient that provides natural cell protection by preventing free radical damage. The power of antioxidants to protect the body against disease is under study but it’s already been discovered they are critical to good health. Raspberries are loaded with many antioxidants including the ellagic acid already mentioned, flavonoids and anthocyanins.
The vitamins and minerals in raspberries also provide protection against heart disease. The excellent fiber content aids digestion and works to prevent cancer from developing. Raspberries have high levels of magnesium, phosphorous, and potassium. These minerals are essential for healthy bones and the cardiovascular system.
Following are the primary nutrients found in one (1) cup of raspberries.
- Vitamin A – 40.6 I.U.
- Vitamin K – 9.6 mcg
- Vitamin C – 32.2 mg
- Dietary fiber – 8.0 g
- Folate – 25.8 mcg
- No cholesterol
- No saturate fat
- Calcium – 30.7 mg
- Phosphorous – 35.7 mg
- Potassium – 186 mg
- Magnesium – 27.1 mg
- Manganese – .8 mg
- Omega-3 fatty acids – 155 mg
- Omega-6 fatty acids – 306 mg
Raspberries are simply loaded with good nutrition. One cup will supply over half of the Vitamin C needed on a daily basis.
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