Exploring Raspberries: Facts, Folklore, and Fun Recipes for the Favorite Fruit of Summer

Updated on March 20, 2019
Carb Diva profile image

Exploring food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes, one ingredient at a time.

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It Began Centuries Ago

In the 1st century B.C., they clambered over the foothills of Troy. Their march was relentless, and they conquered without bloodshed. They crept silently, from empire to empire, stretching across Asia to the northern-most hills of England.

Finally, the beast was tamed by Edward the 1st, who recognized their value and encouraged the domestication of the brambles. In time, cultivars were shipped to the New World, and in 1737 the first crossbreed of a raspberry and a wild blackberry was sold by William Price. But that was not the berry that we know and love today. The creation of that raspberry was the work of another man.

He Had a Vision

  • He was born on a farm in rural Lancaster, Massachusetts,
  • had only a high school education,
  • and was the 13th of 18 children.

Who could have imagined that a young man of such simple means, with no university education, would be heralded as a pioneer in agricultural science, the developer of over 800 plant varieties?

The man was Luther Burbank.

He studied berry species more than any other person in his field and developed 10 commercial varieties of berries; the first was the 1893 Eureka Raspberry.

The Story of the Disappearing Raspberries

There is a story in Chicken Soup for the Gardener’s Soul about “Luther Burbank and the Disappearing Raspberries.” As the story is told the author, Stuart Vincent grew up in Santa Rosa, California in a home surrounded by flower and vegetable gardens, and (oddly) “two ten-foot rows of posts and wires.” One would think those the perfect spot in which to grow raspberries, but in the author’s memory, those rows were always bare.

One afternoon, years and decades away from that childhood scene, Stuart asked his sister Emily, ten years his senior, about her memories of that garden and she shared with him a secret that he would not/could not reveal as long as she was alive. He kept that promise. Emily is now gone, and so he told her story of why his father never grew raspberries in those perfectly-structured rows.

“Do you remember the raspberry patch, just beyond the apple trees? The poles and wires were there for raspberries, but Dad stopped growing them. Mr. Burbank gave him some to try. I remember Dad saying that Mr. Burbank wanted some planted in different soil than he had. I was just a kid, so I didn’t give the berries another thought—until the day Dad brought in the first bowl. I fell in love with them. Every chance I got I gobbled them up. Each day I’d eat all the ripe ones. When there weren’t any rope ones left, I’d eat the almost-ripe ones too. This went on for several seasons. Then one day I saw Daddy digging up the raspberries, hauling them to the burning heap. I said ‘Dad, what are you doing?’ He answered, ‘They just don’t give berries. Lots of bloom, lots of green berries, but for some reason they don’t hang. Something in the soil I guess.’”

Trivia

  • The raspberry is a member of the rose family.
  • A raspberry is made up of many tiny bead-like fruits called "drupelets" clustered around a core. Each drupelet contains one seed, and an average raspberry has 100 to 120 seeds.
  • During the Middle Ages, the juice was used as a red stain for artwork
  • George Washington grew more than 40 different varieties at his Mount Vernon home.
  • Washington State is the top commercial producer, with more than 70 million tons annually.
  • They prefer mild cool climates but can grow as far north as the Arctic Circle and even in tropical regions.
  • One cup of raspberries has 60.28 calories.
  • Raspberries rank in the top 10 antioxidant-high fruits and vegetables

Savory Recipes

There are millions of recipes on the internet for Best Raspberry (you name it)--pie, muffins, pancakes, smoothies, etc. We won't be looking at those. Instead, I have assembled for you some savory uses of our favorite red berry.

Raspberry Balsamic Glazed Chicken with Toasted Almonds

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Amy Casey is a personal chef and food columnist. She creates flavorful dishes that are beautiful enough to stun company, yet simple enough for even the novice cook to pull off with style such as this sauteed chicken flavored with raspberry preserves and balsamic, and then garnished with fresh berries.

Raspberry Brie Dessert Pizza

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Here's a dessert that is a bit more on the savory side. Brie cheese is funky and creamy (not too sweet), balsamic is bright and tangy, the candied pecans add contrasting sweetness and crunch, fresh berries are tart pops of color, and piny rosemary is the perfect end-note.

Fat-Free Raspberry Balsamic Vinaigrette

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With just a few fresh ingredients and a food processor or blender, you can make your own raspberry vinaigrette. Barry (RockRecipes) shows how in this link to his blog. I've featured a number of his recipes in my articles which are always easy, fun, and affordable.

Chicken Cutlets

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Chicken and raspberries are such perfect companions. In this recipe by Lea Ann (HighlandsRanchFoodie) low-fat chicken breast cutlets are floured and quickly sauteed until they are golden brown but still moist and juicy. Chicken has such a mild flavor; it's the perfect platform for this vibrant sauce of raspberry vinegar and fresh or frozen raspberries.

Pork Tenderloin

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Pork is commonly paired with fruit. The list of "go-withs" is long—apples, apricots, cranberries, currants, dried cherries, dried figs, mangoes, peaches, pears, pineapple, plums, quince, and strawberries. Let's add one more; raspberries, especially when blended with cumin, mustard, and garlic create a sweet-tangy-savory chutney-like sauce that you will love. Thanks to Krissy Allori (SelfProclaimedFoodie) for this innovative recipe.

Whiskey Raspberry Glazed Duck Breasts

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I have a problem with duck. I know that according to the experts it should be cooked so that it is still pink inside. That totally goes against my "poultry must be cooked until there is no pink flesh". So I've not attempted this dish, and honestly never will. But I present it here for those of you who appreciate and enjoy duck. Bon Appetit.

Salmon With Wild Mushrooms and Berries

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In 1993 Bon Appetit magazine published a recipe entitled “Salmon Filets with Wild Mushroom Ragout”. It was good, really good, but I felt that it could be made even better. Salmon and wild mushrooms are both Pacific Northwest natives (like me), and so are hazelnuts and our bounty of wild berries. Why not add those too, so here’s what I created for my family.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 5 shallots, minced
  • 18 ounces mixed mushrooms (such as oyster, chanterelle, or crimini)
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 6 6-to 8-ounce salmon fillets
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup fresh wild berries (such as raspberry, blackberry, salmonberry, huckleberry)
  • 1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts

Instructions

  1. Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add shallots and sauté 2 minutes.
  2. Increase heat to medium-high. Add mushrooms; sauté until beginning to brown, about 8 minutes.
  3. Add broth and wine; boil until liquids are syrupy and almost evaporated, about 20 minutes.
  4. Add cream to mushrooms; boil until thickened, about 1 minute. Mix in chopped rosemary. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Preheat broiler. Arrange salmon skin side down on broiler pan.
  6. Brush with lemon juice, then butter. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  7. Broil until just cooked through, without turning, about 6 minutes.
  8. Transfer to plates. Spoon mushroom sauce over. Garnish with berries and hazelnuts.

Questions & Answers

    © 2018 Linda Lum

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      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        9 months ago from Washington State, USA

        Thank you, Pamela. I always research the history of the food/ingredient. I love telling stories.

      • Pamela99 profile image

        Pamela Oglesby 

        9 months ago from Sunny Florida

        I never knew the history of raspberries before, and it was so fascinating. I enjoyed the history and the wonderful picturies of food that included this delicious fruit.

      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        9 months ago from Washington State, USA

        Eric, I'll have an answer for you Monday in my Ask Carb Diva Q&A #47

      • Ericdierker profile image

        Eric Dierker 

        9 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

        OK Linda you got me. If I recall correctly sprouts are like raspberries. a "superfood". (I can't believe I just used that horrible term ;-)

        But how do we grow our own as store brands just go all brown after as short as one night. So I guess I should also ask how to store them also.

      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        9 months ago from Washington State, USA

        Manatita - Two different people but both famous for their work with plants. George Washington Carver 1860-1943. Luther Burbank 1849-1926.

      • manatita44 profile image

        manatita44 

        9 months ago from london

        You are fast becoming a recipe and history god too. Was that the George Washinton Carver I used to read about?

        He was an incredible researcher and pioneer of many foods.

        I love your berry recipes.

      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        9 months ago from Washington State, USA

        OK, now I get it. No, no Sprouts here, but aren't you the lucky one! Nevertheless, I think I WILL work on making my own sprouts again. Might even add that to my Q&A (and pretend that someone asked LOL).

      • Ericdierker profile image

        Eric Dierker 

        9 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

        I am sorry I just assumed they were in your area. Sprouts is a chain out of Phoenix

        https://www.sprouts.com/store/wa/mill-creek/mill-c...

      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        9 months ago from Washington State, USA

        Eric, we have sprouts at our produce stand, and years ago I used to make my own from radish seeds. They are wonderfully spicy. Maybe that's something I should start doing again. Hmmm, I'm thinking rainbow chard might produce something interesting.

      • Ericdierker profile image

        Eric Dierker 

        9 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

        I am sorry I just assumed you had the health food store where you are - Sprouts here is reliable.

      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        9 months ago from Washington State, USA

        Mary, Mr. Burbank's methods were controversial because he was not a scientist and didn't ACT like a scientist (keeping methodical notes, using a control group, etc.) I hope that some of what we are doing today will be regarded as positive 100 years from now.

        In answer to your question, if you can find a source for whole milk that isn't raw but isn't UHT you can probably make your own milk. I will research and get back to you next Monday.

      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        9 months ago from Washington State, USA

        Eric, I have no problem with eating berries without cooking, but since I always provide a recipe (or two or three or more), well you get my point. Berries are loaded with so many good things. Listen to your doctor.

        Did you mean sprouts?

      • Blond Logic profile image

        Mary Wickison 

        9 months ago from Brazil

        Fascinating history of raspberries. I find it inspiring that Mr. Burbank's passion has such an impact on the lives of people today. Can you imagine what he would have thought if he knew that raspberries were in the future going to be proclaimed as a 'super food'.

        It makes me wonder what we are doing today and how it will be viewed in 100+ years.

        Wonderful selection of recipes, as always.

        I have a question for your Q & A mailbag. How difficult is it to make cheddar cheese? Our cheese here, with the exception of a Gorgonzola, is rather flavorless. We have never made cheese before, is cheddar difficult to make?

      • Ericdierker profile image

        Eric Dierker 

        9 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

        You got me again. We like our veggies and fruits raw. And once again you have bursted my bubble. That brie thing at the start is doable here. And we do salmon once a week maybe. So that is good to go.

        And I can make that vinaigrette.

        And the berries are more of a topping than cooked.

        My oncologist recommended at least three servings of berries a day? We have a full acre of blackberries on the family property.

        Stop me please we love our raspberries here. Next stop Spouts!!

      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        9 months ago from Washington State, USA

        Shauna, I enjoy writing these and might do so even if there were no readers. The salmon is wonderful, I do hope you will give it a chance. If you are lucky enough to live in an area where chanterelles are available in autumn, be sure to add a few. My daughter says that's actually the best part of the dish.

      • bravewarrior profile image

        Shauna L Bowling 

        9 months ago from Central Florida

        Interesting history of raspberries, Linda. I always learn something here. Your salmon recipe sounds wonderful. I'll have to give it a try. Both my son and I love salmon.

      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        9 months ago from Washington State, USA

        Bill, the relief from the smoke cannot come soon enough. This old body is feeling the effects. And my heart breaks for all of the animals. They cannot escape. I knew that you had berries growing; it must be an amazing sight. Use one of these recipes and report back to me, OK?

      • billybuc profile image

        Bill Holland 

        9 months ago from Olympia, WA

        We have raspberries and all manner of other berries growing out our ears here. Seriously, our entire front yard is Berry Heaven. That has nothing to do with what you wrote, which was enjoyable, but I thought I would just brag.

        Stay healthy today; relief is on the way.

      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        9 months ago from Washington State, USA

        Flourish, you made me laugh out loud. Honestly, I can say that being "amply-endowed" is not a blessing, so maybe those ducks are walking more upright.

        Please share these with your dad, and thanks always for stopping by.

      • FlourishAnyway profile image

        FlourishAnyway 

        9 months ago from USA

        Those poor ducks walking around with their breasts cut off just so someone could have something to eat with raspberries! In all seriousness, my dad would love these recipes. He’s a real foodie and loves experimenting.

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