Wild raspberries have been around since pre-historic times and still can be found growing wild in the Western Hemisphere, Europe, and East Asia. Cultivation began in Europe in the 16th century. Most raspberries are red, but there are also yellow, amber, apricot, purple, and black varieties. Most US commercial raspberries are grown in California, but with many new varieties they can be grown in gardens across the country or found wild in cooler climes.

In the south, gardeners can grow “low chill” varieties successfully. Today fresh raspberries are available in only small quantities due to the need for hand picking and perishability. The cost is also relatively high, but the taste of fresh berries is incomparable. Fresh ripe raspberries have a bright sweet taste that bursts in your mouth with a slight tart undertone. The riper the raspberry, the sweeter it tastes. Raspberries are a powerhouse of nutrient density, packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, dietary fiber, phytonutrients, and few calories. 

Peak Time: June to July

Average Price: $2.29 per half pint

Tips for Selection and Storage: Purchase raspberries no more than one to two days before use. Choose raspberries that are ripe, uncrushed, free from mold, and have a deep color. Check container for stains and signs of leakage. Always sort berries right after purchase since decay spreads rapidly. Return to the original carton or spread out on a plate in one layer, cover with a paper towel and top with plastic wrap. Store in the refrigerator and use as soon as possible. Do not wash berries until just before use. Berries may be frozen to use later in cooked preparations.

Tips for Preparation: Use fresh as a garnish on desserts or in fruit salads and salad greens. In summer months, fresh raspberries are delightful in ice cream, mousses, sherbets, or ices. Berries may be pureed for syrups or sauces. Raspberries are also found in traditional berry preparations such as tarts, pies, jellies, souffles, muffins, and cakes. Like other berries, raspberries retain more of their antioxidant and phytonutrient if they are eaten fresh and not cooked.

Nutritional Highlights: Raspberries are rich in vitamin C, B vitamins, omega 3 fatty acids, copper, potassium, and manganese as well as dietary fiber. Besides vitamin C, raspberries have a variety of phytonutrients that act as antioxidants. Ellagic acid supplies much of the antioxidant power in raspberries that helps promote cardiovascular health. Quercetin and kaempferol help protect cell membranes from oxidative damage. Anthocyanins in the pigment of red raspberries have unique antioxidant and antimicrobial properties that help prevent the overgrowth of certain bacteria and fungi. Raspberries have also been shown to have the potential to lower blood pressure and blood sugar. Research has shown that raspberries may also help prevent the spread of certain cancers. All of these health benefits are wrapped up in a flavorful fruit with only 60 calories per cup.

For a recipe for raspberry cottage cheese ice cream, click here.