Raspberries may look tiny to us, but they’re actually a large bunch of smaller, seeded fruits called drupelets. This petite package also contains a plethora of beneficial nutrients, including fiber and vitamins A, C and E. These sweet smelling, slightly tart treats are a cinch to grow at home and are easily added to a variety of dishes.
The smaller fruits that make up a single raspberry grow in a circular pattern, leaving a hollow center. The result is a delicate berry with a texture that almost melts in your mouth. There are at least 54 different species of raspberry in a veritable rainbow of hues including red, gold, yellow, purple and black. Popular raspberry hybrids include loganberries and boysenberries.
Raspberries have long been known for their health benefits. The earliest written record of raspberries comes from an English book on herbal medicine penned in 1548. Since then, scientists have identified high levels of ellagic acid in these powerful little berries. Ellagic acid is an antioxidant that helps prevent damage to cell membranes. Raspberries also contain fiber and a multitude of other antioxidants, like vitamins A, C and E. It’s no wonder that research has shown them to be beneficial in fighting inflammation, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, allergies, macular degeneration and other ailments. Even raspberry leaves are considered healthful and have used to create herbal teas for centuries.
Raspberries take well to a variety of climates, so it’s easy to grow these fruits –and your health– at home! Start by selecting an everbearing variety of raspberries; summer-bearing breeds only blossom for about a month, while everbearing types can produce fruit from the beginning of July long into the fall. Raspberries need plenty of sun and water, but be sure not to over water them as too much moisture leaves them susceptible to root rot. They are ready to be picked when they have a rich color and easily separate from the plant.
One you have picked raspberries, be sure to eat them quickly. Fresh raspberries must be refrigerated and only last for a few days. If you have a bounty of berries, you can always freeze them! Frozen raspberries last for up to a year and retain a great deal of their healthful properties. Take advantage of the robust raspberry by sprinkling some into your favorite cereal, yogurt or salad. This recipe for Spinach & Raspberry Salad compliments their tart yet sweet flavor. You can also use frozen raspberries to make this filling Raspberry Peach Blender Breakfast.