When my husband and I moved into our current home a few years back, I was worried about the unkempt raspberry patch next to the garage. I’ve heard many ‘horror stories’ of how aggressive these plants are, taking over yards and gardens, so I was a bit concerned. However now that I’ve lived with my very own patch of raspberries, I’ve been converted. I recommend them with gusto!
Yes they are enthusiastic and if left unchecked, they will send up ‘sucker’ shoots as far as 12 feet away (how do they do that, even under a 4-foot section of concrete patio?!). However, there is a relatively easy way to thwart these excursions: bury some kind of one-foot-deep barrier into the ground around the patch. Sheet metal is ideal, and a sharp garden spade can open up the ground in a narrow slit (especially if you can do it after a rainfall when the ground is soft). I had a section of stove-pipe that I opened along the crease, worked out the curve to make it lay flat, and it’s perfect!
Other than that, their thorns are puny compared to the blackberry brambles I grew up with in British Columbia (now THOSE will tear through heavy jeans!). So to me, raspberry branches are pretty tame, but gloves are recommended when pruning or tying them back. If you don’t tie them up, the tall canes will likely fall over in the first big storm, and then they take up way more space than required! So tie them up, give a little supplemental water if it’s dry, and enjoy harvesting ripe berries throughout summer.
Don’t believe everything you’ve heard about how bad they behave! With the abundance of anti-oxidant-rich fruit they produce with little or no coddling from us, they definitely earn their keep in my small garden plot! We’ve harvested over 20 cups so far this summer from our compact ‘footprint’ of 8 feet by 3 feet for our 6-foot-tall raspberry patch against the south-facing garage wall. Now that’s a valuable use of space!
While I am still researching proper pruning techniques that I will post later, this post is focused on how we can address this year’s bumper crop! Here are some tips and recipes I’ve been enjoying. I hope you enjoy these ideas about what we can do with all these raspberries!
Crimson red, tart, and delicate, raspberries seem to inspire a special kind of devotion amongst foodies — perhaps you have to love them enough to not mind the seeds getting stuck in your teeth. Smaller than a strawberry or a blackberry, the hollow-cored raspberry is just as tasty in savoury dishes as in sweet ones.
Varieties: The red raspberry (Rubus strigosus) is the most common variety in North America but black and golden raspberries exist as well. Black raspberries possess a richer flavour and are often used in preserves, while golden raspberries have similar taste characteristics to the red variety, although they’re lower in antioxidant anthocyanins.
Health properties: Raspberries are a low glycemic index food, and they’re high in antioxidants, which offer protection against a number of diseases. They’re also a high source of vitamin C, manganese and dietary fibre.
Plays well with: Mint, other berries, cherries, chocolate, salad greens, Greek yogurt, lemon, vanilla, rhubarb, whipped cream.
Simple ways to use:
Breakfast smoothie: Add 1/2 cup of raspberries (fresh or frozen) to your favourite smoothie for a healthy dose of vitamins and antioxidants.
Top pancakes or French toast with crushed fresh raspberries instead of maple syrup.
Add whole or crushed raspberries to a cocktail (alcoholic or non-alcoholic) for flavour and a pretty presentation.
Add raspberries to a green salad for a hit of tart sweetness.
Pair with hunks of good quality chocolate for an elegant dessert.
Good to know: Astringent-flavoured raspberry leaves have medicinal properties and are often used fresh or dried in herbal teas.
Please note ~ These recipes encourage rinsing which is recommended for store-bought (non-organic) berries. But it can contribute to having them fall apart on you. If they are organically grown in your own garden, and you deal with them right away, perhaps reconsider the rinsing and drying step. I pick over my harvest very carefully each time I pick, and then freeze in a single layer before transferring to a large container. This way I can scoop out a cup or any amount whenever I need it. They thaw very quickly and are excellent in muffins, added last-minute while still frozen, just before baking. They absolutely burst with fresh fruit goodness!
~ Makes 1½ cups
This sweet and zesty snack is the perfect compliment to a heaping pile of blue corn chips, ideal for summer entertaining!
Zest of one lime
1 ½ cups (375 mL) fresh local raspberries
2 tbsp (30 mL) fresh lime juice
¼ cup (60 mL) cilantro, finely chopped
4 green onions, sliced thinly
1 tsp (5 mL) red pepper flakes – can reduce to ½ tsp (2 mL)
1 tbsp (15 mL) extra virgin olive oil or cold pressed canola oil
Method: Rinse the raspberries, drain well and lay out on paper towels or a tea towel to dry. Divide in half. Make the salsa: Toss together the zest, fresh lime juice, cilantro, green onion, red pepper flakes, and oil in a large bowl. Toss in the raspberries and gently mash about half so the salsa has half mashed and half whole. Serve with purple corn chips or regular, sodium reduced.
~ Makes 10 Tablespoons
This is a great alternative to bottled raspberry salad dressing. Quick and easy to make, store leftover dressing in the fridge for up to two days.
½ cup (125 mL) fresh raspberries, rinsed well under cold water, drained
1 tsp (5 mL) honey or sweetener of your choice
2 tbsp (30 mL) balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp (30 mL) 100% pure pomegranate juice
1 tbsp (15 mL) canola oil
2 tsp (10 mL) Dijon mustard
Method: Whirl everything in a blender or use a hand held immersion blender to whirl the ingredients together. Serve over baby spinach, romaine or baby greens. Feel free to add extra raspberries when serving.
~ Makes one dozen
These heart-healthy muffins are full of raspberries, satisfying the appetite of all raspberry lovers.
1 ½ cups (375 mL) fresh raspberries; rinsed well, and placed on a paper towel to dry before you start. Note, if raspberries are wet, the muffins will be soggy.
1 cup (250 mL) oat bran – found in the cereal aisle
½ cup (125 mL) white granulated sugar
½ cup (125 mL) fresh lemon juice (approx 2 large lemons) – zest the lemon first. You need the zest for the dry ingredients
½ cup (125 mL) milk – 1% or skim
1 omega-3 egg
1 cup (250 mL) whole wheat flour
¾ cup (180 mL) ground flax seed
2 tbsp (30 mL) wheat germ
2 tbsp (30 mL) lemon zest
1 tsp (5 mL) baking powder
1 tsp (5 mL) baking soda
Method: See the note above about the raspberries – when they have air dried – preheat oven to 375°F (190°C) Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners. Wet ingredients: In a large bowl whisk together: oat bran, sugar, lemon juice, milk and egg. Set aside while you prep the dry ingredients. Dry ingredients: In a medium bowl whisk together: flour, flax seed, wheat germ, lemon zest, baking powder and baking soda. In the reverse of the standard muffin method – Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir just until well blended and there a no visible bits of dry flour. Gently fold in the raspberries until well incorporated. Scoop or spoon batter into muffins cups. For picture perfect muffins use an ice cream scoop. Bake in the centre of the oven for 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean. Let the muffins cool in the pan on a wire rack for 2-3 minutes. Remove the muffins and let them cool completely on the rack before eating one. Store muffins in an airtight container for up to 2 days, or freeze for up to 2 months.
RASPBERRY FREEZER JAM
~ Makes five 1-cup jars
3 1/2 to 4 cups raspberries
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
45-g pouch freezer-jam pectin, such as Certo or Bernardin brand
Zest of 1/2 lemon
Method: Crush berries with a potato masher. Combine sugar and pectin in a large bowl. Stir in zest. Stir berries into sugar mixture until very well combined. Let stand 3 min, then stir again very well. Ladle into 5 clean 1-cup jars. Leave 1/2-in. headspace from rim. Wipe rims clean, then apply lids tightly. Let stand 30 min. Jam will be very softly set. Use right away, or transfer jars to the freezer for storage. Jam keeps well, frozen, for up to 1 year. To use, simply thaw a jar. Once opened, store in the fridge.
Source for recipes: Cityline website