Gloriously scented, succulent, juicy, bold and bright raspberries are like late summer jewels, closing the season before autumn mists set in. Like most berries you can bake them into cakes, ripple them through ice cream, make them into jam or puree them into sauce, but probably the best way to eat them is as nature intended, on their own – or maybe dusted with a little icing sugar and drizzled with cream…
Nutritional raspberry facts
Raspberries are great sources of vitamins C and A, packing an antioxidant punch. Eat them too for access to some useful phytochemicals such as ellagic acid, believed to help prevent cancer, and beta-carotene to protect the heart. A raspberry snack will also provide you with a useful helping of iron and potassium and some fibre.
Historical raspberry facts
Raspberries are believed to have originated in Asia and are known to have been cultivated in ancient Roman times. They were made popular in Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries after English and French growers improved and hybridised the varieties available.
One of the little known raspberry facts is that they are one of the few soft fruits that thrives up in Scotland and are now an important industry for the country. Over 15,000 tonnes of raspberries are grown in Tayside every year.
Scientific facts about raspberries
Like pears, apricots and almonds, raspberries are part of the same botanical family as roses. They aren’t strictly berries in the scientific sense, being an aggregate fruit made up of individual sections each containing a seed, whereas berries are a single fruit containing many seeds. While raspberries are usually seen in a hot pink colour, they can also be grown in orange, yellow and purple colours.
Look for plump, dry raspberries with a uniform colour. If the berries still contain the hulls they will not have ripened properly and will taste rather tart. Raspberries are a particularly delicate fruit and should be handled carefully. Avoid washing them if you can as they can lose their shape and get damaged easily when wet. Raspberries don’t last once ripe so you will only have a day or two to eat them at their best, but they do freeze well. Spread the berries out on a tray so they are not touching each other, freeze then transfer to tubs or bags once solid. Frozen raspberries work very well in smoothies or baked into muffins without any need to defrost first.