It’s berry-picking time here at my Bedford, New York farm. The bushes are filled with those small, fragrant, and refreshingly sweet raspberries – one of the most popular berries in the United States.
I grow red, black and golden raspberries, and the right time for picking is early summer when the fruits are vivid in color, and ready to fall off their stems. Although they are best eaten raw, raspberries are used in a variety of ways – as ingredients in jams and jellies, pies and tarts, or juices and herbal teas. This week, my housekeepers, Elvira and Enma, picked a batch of red and black raspberries – I am looking forward to sharing them with my family and friends.
Here are some photos, enjoy. And have a very safe and joyful Independence Day weekend.
I have several rows of raspberries on one side of my main greenhouse. They all produce so many fruits every summer.
Summer-bearing raspberry bushes produce one crop each season. The fruits typically start ripening in late June into July with a crop that lasts about one month.
The first week of July is when we start picking the black and red raspberries. These bushes are all lush and exploding with delicious berries.
These red raspberries are placed on a baking sheet in one layer, so nothing gets crushed. All the picked fruits are kept in the shade until they are brought indoors.
We also use fiber pulp berry boxes. They have slotted sides for ventilation and are also eco-friendly. It’s okay to fill the container, but make sure not to pack the fruits in or press them down.
Botanically, the raspberry is a shrub belonging to the Rosaceae family, in the genus Rubus.
The raspberry plant has spade-shaped leaves that are toothed along the edges. My bushes are several years old and remain so healthy and lush. It takes about two to three years for a new red raspberry plant to produce a significant crop of fruit.
Red raspberries must be picked and handled very carefully and checked for insects and rot. This berry is perfect. The smaller ones above are still young and will ripen in time.
Raspberries are unique because their roots and crowns are perennial, while their stems or canes are biennial. A raspberry bush can produce fruit for many years.
Here’s Elvira using a harvest bucket from Johnny’s Selected Seeds. She loves it because it allows her to pick with both hands. The bucket is wide, durable, and has an 18-quart capacity.
It also has a kidney-shaped design for added comfort.
Here’s Enma picking more red raspberries nearby. It’s a very warm and humid day – hats and proper sun protection are a must.
Enma and Elvira pick only those fruits that are bright red in color, leaving any light peach berries to ripen some more.
Keep in mind, only the ripe berries will slip off the stems easily.
Raspberries contain vitamins A and E and are also rich in minerals, such as potassium, manganese, copper, iron, and magnesium.
The raspberries are transferred into the boxes and taken up to my flower room where they can be stored in the fridge or the freezer.
On another day, Elvira picks black raspberries. It’s good to know that once raspberries are picked, they stop ripening, so under-ripe berries that are harvested will never mature to the maximum sweetness. The black raspberry plant is a high producing early variety whose upright growth makes it easy for picking.
The raspberry is made up of small “drupe” fruits which are arranged in a circular fashion around a hollow central cavity. Each drupelet features a juicy pulp with a single seed.
Raspberries need full sun for the best berry production. They should be planted in rich, slightly acidic, well-drained soil that has been generously supplemented with compost and well-rotted manure. I am very fortunate to have such excellent soil here at the farm.
There are more than 200-species of raspberries. In the United States, about 90-percent of all raspberries sold come from the states of Washington, California, and Oregon.
This all-purpose fruit is firm, sweet, and full of flavor. It tastes great eaten fresh off the stem or made into preserves. Ripe raspberries are rich in color, whether they are red, golden, or black. The entire berry should be consistently colored also, and full in shape before picking.
The berries will ripen gradually throughout the summer, so it’s important to check the crop every few days. Overripe berries will be mushy when harvested.
One plant can produce several hundred berries per season. Raspberries are vigorous growers and will produce runners that fill up a bed.
Here are some of the black raspberries picked and placed in a colander. To save berries for use at another time, freeze them – lay them out onto flat trays in single layers and freeze until solid. Once they are frozen, they can be moved into plastic containers or freezer bags until ready to eat. What a wonderful summer it will be with all these delicious and nutritious fruits.