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Raspberries, Greenhouse

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Raspberries can trace a long history back to prehistoric times. We know today that they are one of the first plants to follow forest fires and to spread into newly cleared land.  During the period when people began their first attempts at planting crops, raspberries most likely crept into early fields and were harvested as a wild fruit.

What to Look for

As raspberries are highly perishable, they should only be purchased one or two days prior to use. Raspberries do not ripen further after picking, so for best quality, select fully ripe berries that are aromatic, firm, plump, brightly coloured, and with no cores. If the cores are still attached, the berries were picked too early and will likely be too tart. If you are buying berries pre-packaged in a container, make sure that they are not packed too tightly, which may cause them to become crushed and damaged, and that the container has no signs of stains or moisture, an indication of possible spoilage.

Cleaning and Preparation

Before placing in the refrigerator, remove any berries that are mouldy or spoiled so that they will not contaminate the others. Place the unwashed berries back in their original container or spread them out on a plate lined with a paper towel, and then cover the plate with plastic wrap.

Wash berries quickly in cold water just before using, but do not soak them. Drain well and air dry, or softly pat them dry with a paper towel before using.

Storage

Extreme care should be taken in the storage of raspberries. Unwashed raspberries will keep fresh in the refrigerator for one or two days. Do not leave raspberries at room temperature or exposed to sunlight for too long, as this will cause them to spoil.

To freeze, spread raspberries in a single layer on shallow trays and freeze.  Once frozen, quickly pack into freezer containers and return to the freezer.  This method keeps the raspberries separated from each other. However raspberries can also be packed directly into bags or containers if loose berries are not desired.

Nutritional Information

Both black and red raspberries contain relatively high quantities of one particular tannin – ellagic acid – that works as a phytonutrient to neutralize free radicals and prevent unwanted damage to cell membranes and other structures in the body.

In addition to their phytonutrient content, raspberries are particularly high in B vitamins, manganese, vitamin C, riboflavin, folate, niacin, and dietary fibre.

20 raspberries (40g) contain 20 calories, 0.2g fat, 4.5g carbohydrate, 2.4g dietary fibre and 0.4g protein.

How to Use

Raspberries are commonly eaten fresh, but are flavourful additions to cakes, pies, muffins, and trifles.  Served with ice cream on a hot day or preserved into jams or sauces, the taste of summer is always just a spoonful away.

We now know that the bark of the root and the leaves contain tannin, an astringent that is useful for treating diarrhea, wounds, sore throats, and mouth ulcers. Raspberry leaf tea contains a smooth muscle stimulant that, in pregnant women, is used to strengthen the longitudinal muscles of the uterus, and thereby increase contractions and hasten birth.

Raspberries freeze very well. After washing, arrange them in a single layer on a flat pan or cookie sheet and place them in the freezer. Once frozen, transfer the berries to a heavy plastic bag and return them to the freezer where they will keep for up to one year. Adding a bit of lemon juice to the raspberries prior to freezing will help to preserve their color.

Varieties

Varieties grown in Ontario include Boyne, Festival, Killarney, Titan, Reveille and Nova.

Late summer varieties include Autumn Bliss, Autumn Britten and Heritage