Valley Bounty: Raspberries
Soft and luscious raspberries are a perfect item to purchase fresh-picked, not transported hundreds of miles. Find them at farmers’ markets, farmstands, in your CSA share, or from retailers that prioritize local sourcing. Try tossing a bowl of berries with a little balsamic vinegar and maple syrup or other sweetener. Depending on your taste, and the ratio of vinegar to sugar you choose, you may like these on salad, or on ice cream—or both!
Raspberries don’t need a lot of cooking. Just eat them! Add them to your morning granola or smoothie, bring a container of berries to work to snack on, marinate them in a little bit of balsamic vinegar and maple syrup and toss them on your salad. Put them on ice cream or top them with whipped cream (and add chocolate sauce to either one if you’re feeling really decadent).
Popsicles are a lighter dessert idea that requires a little bit more time—to freeze them—but not much more effort. Yogurt-based pops are easy—use a blender to mix up yogurt and fruit, then pour into popsicle molds. I like to add a few fresh mint leaves. If you freeze at least some of the fruit first, the smoothie will be thicker.
Here’s a recipe for raspberry popsicles that are only fruit and sweetener—remember that you can sub in honey or maple syrup for a local sweetener.
This Chocolate Strawberry Tart, originally from the Silver Palate cookbook, is also good with raspberries. I skip the currant glaze and just cut up the fruit on top (although currants are also in season, and I’m sure the glaze would be delicious).
Raspberries are easy to freeze, and that’s good, because they don’t last too long. If you have some that are about to go past, just toss them on a tray and put them in your freezer. Once they’re frozen, put them in a bag or other freezing container. You can save them for winter, or put them in a smoothie, or just store them until you have enough frozen to make jam.
I make a slow-cooked raspberry jam using a ratio of 1 quart of berries to 1 cup of sugar to 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. You can adjust the sugar to your taste. Cook them slowly until they thicken—test the thickness by putting a little bit of jam on a spoon in your freezer, then seeing how fast it runs down the spoon once it’s cold. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. CISA’s Food Preservation Resource List includes links to basic canning instructions if you need them.
If you like raspberry jam but are short on raspberries, try making a raspberry-blueberry mix. You can make a slow-cooked version, as above, or use pectin, which helps the jam set up and will give you a higher yield than cooking the berries down until they are thick. Pomona’s Pectin is made by a family-owned, local business, and it makes great low sugar (or other sweetener) jams. In addition to lots of recipes on their website, the pectin comes with an instruction sheet that makes it easy to mix and match whatever fruit you have on hand. I like half-and-half blueberries and raspberries, but you can use whatever you have.