The season dictates that now is the time to celebrate the raspberry: succulent, brilliant and so versatile. It’s the most fabulous ingredient in endless cakes, the base for delicious smoothies, a summer cordial staple and the gardener’s joy.
Do you know these raspberry facts?
The raspberry is part of the Rubus botanical family, which includes roses and blackberries. You will be impressed to discover that raspberries are even more vitamin C rich than oranges, contain loads of fibre, are high in folic acid and all for very few calories. There’s also a useful amount of vitamin A, calcium and potassium in every raspberry, making each jewel toned berry a miniature nutritional powerhouse. Furthermore, tea made of raspberry leaves is commonly drunk by pregnant women to prepare the body for the trials of labour.
They may be associated with warmer weather, but in fact raspberries are abundant in Scotland. The ‘Raspberry Special’ steam train used to travel from Scotland to London in the late Fifties, bringing the fruit to residents of the capital.
While we are used to the famous deep pinky purple berries, in fact raspberries come in some 200 different species, including gold and black coloured varieties, each with 100-120 seeds. Golden raspberries are said to be the sweetest and tastiest. Raspberries have also been a donor to many famous berry hybrids. Cross raspberries with blackberries and you get loganberries. Put those three together to make boysenberries.
Even more unusual raspberry facts!
Raspberries symbolise kindness in some forms of Christian art. Red raspberry juice represents blood, which comes from the heart, which is the source of kindness. Houses in the Philippines can sometimes be seen with a raspberry cane hung up outside to deter evil spirits from entering, while horses in Germany used to have a raspberry cane tied to their body, used as a calming measure.
Today is a great day for experimenting with a raspberry recipe, but remember that unlike other fruit, raspberries don’t continue to ripen once picked. Only pick or buy raspberries which are already ripe, because there’s no way to soften them up later on.
Nutty raspberry muesli
This healthy raspberry recipe is a great way to start the day.
To serve six:
225g jumbo porridge oats
125ml apple juice
225ml plain Greek yoghurt
3 tablespoons honey
2 dessert apples, grated
250g fresh raspberries
50g hazelnuts, roughly chopped and lightly toasted
Soak the oats in the apple juice and 300ml water in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning, mix the oats with the yoghurt, honey and grated apples. Serve topped with the raspberries and hazelnuts.