General Description: Raspberries (Rubus genus_) are soft multiple fruits with tart, intensely flavored juice. The red raspberry is indigenous to both Asia Minor and North America. Fruits were gathered from the wild by the people of Troy; later the Romans spread cultivation throughout Europe. When the colonists came to America, they brought the European cultivated raspberry (Rubus idaeus_) with them and found Native Americans drying the American wild raspberry (Rubus strigosus).
Each raspberry is composed of many individual sections of fruit, each with its own seed, surrounding a central core. There are three main types: golden, black, and the more common red raspberry. Red raspberries thrive in the relatively cool, marine climate of the Pacific Northwest.
Golden raspberries are a relatively new variety. They have a luscious flavor reminiscent of softly perfumed apricots. Black raspberries are native to North America and common in the eastern U.S. and Canada. They are usually purplish black, with small seeds and a hollow core, though yellow and red forms also exist.
Season: Red raspberries are available year-round throughout the United States, especially to the restaurant trade, but peak season is June to early September. Golden raspberries are available in limited quantity from June to October. Black raspberries are in season in July.
Purchase: Raspberries are delicate. The best-tasting ones will have been handled very carefully. Look for berries that are full and round, not flattened. The walls of the berry should be full and meaty, not skimpy. Superb berries have a hazy, soft “gloss.”
Avoid: Turn over the container to inspect before purchase. A stained container is a sign of overripe or decaying berries. Avoid raspberries with tiny dents or bruises or ones that are broken apart or moldy.
Storage: Raspberries are very perishable and must be refrigerated. Keep cold but not too cold: Raspberries are very sensitive to freeze damage. Moisture will hasten decay, so do not wash raspberries until just before serving. Raspberries should keep for 1 to 2 days in the refrigerator.
- Rinse gently when ready to use.
- Spread onto paper towels to dry.
Serving Suggestions: Purée raspberries for dessert sauce or beverages, adding sugar to taste and straining, as desired. Combine sliced peaches, pears, or nectarines with raspberries and serve with chocolate sauce and sweetened whipped cream. Blend raspberries, white balsamic vinegar, vegetable oil, honey, rosemary, salt, and black pepper to taste to make a raspberry vinaigrette for green salads or grilled chicken.
Flavor Affinities: Champagne, chocolate, cream, framboise, honey, kirsch, peaches, pears, sour cream, sugar, vanilla.
from Quirk Books: www.quirkbooks.com