What is a raspberry?
Crimson raspberries tumbled over mascarpone or thick cream makes a simple dessert that highlights the flavour of this delicate fruit. In the world of desserts, the taste sensation of raspberries and chocolate is a knockout. Eaten fresh, the velvety texture and pop of raspberries are reminiscent of early summer.
Raspberries grew wild in many European countries and the varieties we enjoy today have been cultivated from these plants. Breeding with native North American species in the 19th century, a practice that continues, has led to the development of new raspberry varieties. Wild raspberries still grow in certain parts of the world, including the USA, England and Australia.
Commercial crops of raspberries can be found growing in a number of Australian states including Tasmania, Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.
In Australia, raspberries are sold by colour and not variety. Two types of raspberry plants are grown commercially – those that produce fruit in summer and those that produce fruit twice a year, in summer and in autumn.
Raspberries come in red, black and yellow, with the most common type grown in Australia being the red raspberry. Varieties include the Chilliwack and the Bogong. A newer variety is the Golden Raspberry, a yellow berry that is sweeter and softer than the red raspberry.
Why raspberries are good to eat
- Raspberries are a good source of vitamin C (needed for the growth and repair of tissues in the body) and contain some vitamin E (involved in the interactions between your cells), K (important for helping your blood to clot) and folate.
- The fruit also contains minerals such as potassium (which helps to regulate blood pressure), manganese (involved in the regulation of brain and nerve function) and magnesium (involved in the regulation of muscle, heart and nerve function and keeping bones strong).
- Raspberries contain dietary fibre, which is important for a healthy bowel.
- Energy – 100 g of raspberries supplies 225 kJ.
How are they grown and harvested?
Raspberry plants grow best in cool climates and in areas where there is little rain. Rain during harvest results in soft fruit and rotten berries. The plant is small and deciduous (loses its leaves every year) and the base of the plant (the crown) and its root system live for many years. Raspberry plants have prickly woody stems (or canes) that are semi-erect or upright. These can grow up to 2.5 m or more. New canes are produced each year from the crown and the base of old canes.
In the first year, the canes grow and only produce leaves (these are green, oval and have jagged edges) but no fruit. These canes are called ‘primocanes’. In the following year, the canes produce flowers, which in turn become raspberries. At this stage the canes are called ‘floricanes’. Floricanes die off and need to be removed after they produce fruit.
Harvesting raspberries is labour-intensive, as the fruit is usually picked by hand to minimise damage. Raspberries ripen progressively over about four weeks and picking usually occurs every two to four days. The ripe berries, which are a cluster of drupelets (small, individual fruits) held together by a network of fine, interlacing hairs, come away from the stem without their stalk. A mature raspberry plant can produce up to 1 kg of fruit.
Select raspberries that are bright and plump. Avoid those that are mouldy or have soft spots or bruises.
How to store and keep raspberries
Store raspberries in your fridge. They should be unwashed, on a plate lined with a paper towel and covered with plastic. Raspberries should be used within two days of buying.
How to use
- Make an easy dessert – mash raspberries and mix into custard, then pour the mixture over sliced peaches arranged in a baked tart case, then refrigerate to set and serve topped with fresh raspberries.
- Cook some chicken skewers – marinate chicken pieces in a mixture of blended raspberries, hoisin sauce, rice vinegar, garlic, orange zest and chopped ginger (keep some aside for a dipping sauce), then thread the chicken onto skewers and grill until tender.
- Add raspberries to your salad dressing – combine mixed salad greens, diced mango, diced avocado and sliced onion in a bowl, then dress with a mixture of
- pureed raspberries, red wine vinegar, olive oil, chopped garlic and seasoning and top with fresh raspberries and slivered almonds (or hazelnuts) before serving.
This page has been produced in consultation with and approved by:
Better Health Channel
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