Ah, the raspberry! We have them growing wild here at the Mountain Farmhouse and we love them! I planted a few of the plants myself, but for the most part, they seeded themselves and grew. The birds help with that.
Several years ago, I would not have wanted the raspberries to grow so wild and abundantly. I was trying to control nature too much. After learning about Permaculture, however, my outlook and approach became very different. Joel and I decided to let nature run its course, and in doing so, we’ve come to appreciate this wonderfully flourishing food plant!
Healthy food plant
Not only are raspberries delicious, but they have health benefits, too! They are a good source of Vitamin C, fiber, several B vitamins, and flavonoids, which are powerful antioxidants.
Raspberries in the Garden
Raspberries are in the plant genus Rubus, and are of the Rose family. This could be why the Japanese Beetles love to eat the leaves! They are also perennial. Raspberries are very hardy, resilient, and can become invasive if left to their own devices.
So far, at the Mountain Farmhouse, I’ve allowed them to spread, but I happen to have space for this. I’d like to coax them in a certain direction, if at all possible. That is the challenge I must face – figuring out how to do just that. You can see part of the thicket that I need to re-direct, if I can. It has become so overgrown that I can barely step into it to pick the berries. Pruning in a timely way, that is, in the Springtime, would definitely help. Sadly, I don’t always get to it since there are so many other pressing garden chores.
Of course, it’s easy to buy and plant raspberries just as you would any other plant. They tend to be very hardy, so I’ve never added any soil amendments. We’ve only planted a few, however. The rest seed themselves, mostly via the birds, or they spread via runners underground. Some of mine have propagated on their own by the end of a stem submerging itself into the ground. (It can get very muddy around here, making it easy for the end of the stem to take root.) A new plant then springs forth! It’s quite spectacular, really!
I’ve seen raspberries grown with trellis supports. Someday, I may try this in an effort to create a bit of a hedge as part of my “re-direction” plans. But for now, I’ll live with my bramble-y thicket!
As the fruit becomes ripe, gently pull with your fingers. If it doesn’t come off easily, it’s not quite ripe enough. If it squishes in your hand, you waited too long. I check the color of the fruit first. If it is a nice, deep red-pink, I’ll attempt to pick it. Otherwise, I’ll leave it there another little while. During the season, it’s best to check your plants everyday.
Here are my pickings from the other day. I figured I’d better grab the ripe blackberries while I was at it.
To Glove or Not to Glove
Raspberry canes have thorns. As a result, many people wear gloves when picking. Personally, I have a hard time grasping the fruit when I wear gloves. What to do? Very slowly, carefully, pull each branch up with one hand and pick with the other. If you feel that this is too risky, either cut fingertips out of old gloves, or cut holes for your fingers out of an old sock.
To give perspective on the size of the raspberries, here are a couple of them in my hand. They are not tiny, like most wild berries.
Susceptible to mold
Speaking of picking, it’s a good idea to pick them as they ripen. They tend to grow mold if left on the plant too long.
Here is a little trick for discouraging mold. I get out a large bowl and place about 1/4 cup apple cider OR distilled vinegar in it. Then I fill it about 2/3 full with water. I add the berries to soak for anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour.
Then I place them in a colander to rinse and drain. After that, they get laid out on a towel. I pick through them individually to separate the moldy ones into the compost, the soft/mushy ones into a freezer container, and the firmest into a container for the fridge.
This will help discourage mold growth on raspberries and other fruit.
- 1/4 Cup Vinegar , distilled or apple cider
- Water (to fill medium bowl 2/3 full)
- Mix vinegar and water in a medium-sized bowl. Add berries or other fruit. Let stand 15 – 60 minutes.
- Drain, rinse, and drain again in colander.
- Spread on towel to dry.
- Refrigerate, freeze, eat, or use in a recipe.
Favorite Ways to Consume Raspberries
We mostly eat the raspberries freshly picked. There is just nothing like it, and it is a fleeting time of year. I’d love to introduce varieties that ripen at different times. Maybe that is in our future?
Other than fresh-picked, we add them to smoothies, muffins, pancakes, cobblers, and pies. On that note, they could easily be added to my Rhubarb Cobbler recipe, either on their own or combined with the rhubarb. Often, I’ll combine raspberries with rhubarb for a delicious sauce or jam, which is lovely atop pancakes. Yes, we still get rhubarb when the berries are ripe.
Here is just one more way to enjoy raspberries on a hot summer’s day – with vegan vanilla ice cream, a splash of maple syrup, and cinnamon. So yummy!
Here is yet another way we enjoyed the raspberries. Our friends were visiting from Maryland, and they introduced us to a cocktail called a “Frozé .” (I’m not actually sure how it is spelled.) It’s frozen Rosé wine, blended with some vodka and juice.
Here are the resulting drinks. Note the garnish.
- 1 Ice Tray Rosé Wine (-Frozen in an ice cube tray)
- 1/2 Cup Vodka (-Use fruit infused or flavored, if available)
- 1/2 Cup Fruit Juice (-Raspberry(fresh-squeezed and strained?), grape, pomegranate, or your favorite)
- Place all ingredients in a blender.
Blend until smooth.
Pour into glasses. Garnish with fresh berries. Serve!
I must say, these were very tasty drinks! Nice and refreshing, to say the least.
Do you like raspberries? What are your favorite ways to enjoy raspberries? Do you grow them?
Happy Raspberry Season!