Raspberries are an extremely popular fruit, with a delicious sweet-tart flavor all their own. They’re wonderful as a stand-alone treat, yet they can be included in a wide array of foods whether they are raw, cooked or baked. If you’re seeking some specific information about raspberries, hopefully you’ll find what you need below. What follows is a comprehensive article all about raspberries, from what they are to how to use them.
Raspberries 101 – The Basics
Raspberries are members of the rose family of plants (Rosaceae). They are a cousin to apples, apricots, blackberries, cherries, loquats, peaches, pears, plums, strawberries, and even almonds. Raspberries are the third most popular berry, following strawberries and blueberries.
There are over 200 different types of raspberries, with most that are grown commercially being red, black, or purple raspberries. The red raspberry is the most common variety grown. Raspberries are called “aggregate fruits” meaning that they are made of many small individual fruits coming from multiple ovaries in a single flower. In raspberries, those individual fruits are the tiny juicy round spheres that form the structure of the round raspberry. The individual spheres are called drupelets and each one has its own seed (as you know if you’ve ever eaten raspberries).
The many varieties of raspberries appear to have originated around the globe from the Arctic Circle to the Hawaiian Islands, Asia, North America, and beyond. Raspberries appear to be one of the first cultivated berries, with evidence dating back 2,000 years in Europe. Today, raspberries are among the world’s most popular berries and they are grown commercially in many countries. They are grown across America, with most of them being grown in California. Despite that, because of their popularity, the United States imports about 15,000 metric tons of raspberries from Mexico each year.
Nutrition and Health Benefits of Raspberries
Raspberries are an excellent source of Vitamin C, manganese and fiber. They are a good source of Vitamin K, pantothenic acid, biotin, Vitamin E, magnesium, folate, and even omega-3 fatty acids. One cup of raspberries has about 64 calories. On top of all the nutrients found in raspberries, they are loaded with dozens of phytonutrients that have an array of health benefits.
Antioxidants and Anti-Inflammatory Effects. Raspberries contain a large variety of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds, more so than other fruits. Also, the amount of each compound is significant in helping to protect us from oxidative stress and excess inflammation. The diseases associated with these conditions that can be helped through the compounds in raspberries includes obesity, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, atherosclerosis, and even Crohn’s disease.
Anticancer Effects: Raspberries are full of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients and compounds that prove to be beneficial in fighting cancer. Additionally, research has shown that the compounds in raspberries send signals that actually decrease the number of cancer cells by encouraging them to begin the phase of apoptosis (programmed cell death). These compounds have also been found to encourage non-cancerous cells (that could potentially become cancerous) to remain benign.
Obesity and Blood Sugar Benefits. A compound in raspberries, rheosmin, has been found to increase metabolism in fat cells, possibly making them less likely to deposit fat within their cells. This action may also help to reduce the number of pro-inflammatory molecules produced by our fat cells, helping to reduce inflammatory problems associated with obesity.
Rheosmin has also been found to decrease the activity of pancreatic lipase, the fat-digesting enzyme released by the pancreas. By reducing the activity of this enzyme, we may digest and absorb less fat.
Another compound found in raspberries, tiliroside, is known to activate adiponectin, a key factor in the regulation of insulin and blood sugar levels. In obese people with type 2 diabetes, adiponectin seems to be in short supply or not active enough to adequately regulate blood sugar levels. By way of activating adiponectin, the tiliroside in raspberries can help in the management of blood sugar levels in obese people with type 2 diabetes. Preliminary studies suggest that the compounds in raspberries may help to regulate blood sugar, blood insulin, and blood fats in obese individuals with type 2 diabetes.
How to Select Raspberries
The optimal way to buy fresh raspberries is to choose ones that are fully ripe, yet are still fresh and not starting to spoil. Look for raspberries that are firm, plump, and deep in color. Avoid any that are soft, mushy, or moldy. Make sure the container has no signs of stains or moisture, as these may be signs of age and spoiling. If you are buying berries prepackaged in a container, make sure that they are not packed too tightly, since this may cause them to become crushed and damaged. Within the United States, raspberries are usually available from mid-summer through early fall.
How to Store Fresh Raspberries
When you get them home and before putting them in the refrigerator, transfer the berries to a plate or bowl and look through them so you can remove any that are soft, damaged or spoiled in any way. Place a folded paper towel in the bottom of the original container and return the berries to their container. If you have an extra berry container available (one that has air vents in it), place a folded paper towel in the bottom of the extra container and divide the sorted berries between both containers. This will allow for more air flow around the berries, helping to preserve them a little longer.
Fresh raspberries are highly perishable. They should be kept in the refrigerator and used within one or two days of purchase. So, it’s best to purchase fresh raspberries when you know you’ll be using them right away.
How to Prepare Fresh Raspberries
Raspberries are very delicate and should be stored unwashed. Wash the berries only when you’re ready to use them. Gently rinse them under cool water, using a sprayer at the sink if you have one. Gently pat them dry with a paper towel, then immediately use them as planned.
How to Freeze Fresh Raspberries
To freeze extra raspberries, gently wash them under cool water using the sprayer (if you have one) at the sink. Gently pat them dry with a paper towel and arrange them in a single layer on a tray and place that in the freezer. Once frozen, transfer the berries to a freezer container or heavy-duty freezer bag. Use your frozen berries within 1 year.
Fresh vs Frozen Raspberries
Fresh Raspberries. Fresh raspberries can be used any way you would like to use them in dishes and beverages. They are delicious, beautiful in color, and are packed full of nutrients and compounds that boost our health in many ways. The few downsides include the fact that they are expensive, seasonal, and highly perishable. When buying fresh raspberries, it’s best to have some use for them in mind before making the purchase. Otherwise, they may sit in your refrigerator a bit too long and spoil before being used.
Frozen Raspberries. Commercially frozen raspberries are picked and frozen at their peak of ripeness, flavor, and nutritional content. When compared with fresh raspberries, their frozen counterparts are often cheaper. Of course, they have a longer lifespan since they are already frozen and will (within reason) wait for you to use them. According to a research study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (2002), the phytochemical and antioxidant content of frozen raspberries is comparable to that of the fresh variety in commercially frozen berries. Because the berries are frozen very soon after harvest, the nutrient content will be at its peak, whereas those purchased in grocery stores may be older with a somewhat reduced nutrient level.
Frozen raspberries may be used in the same ways you could use fresh berries. If needed, simply allow the amount you need to rest at room temperature for a few minutes, then use them as you would use fresh berries. Otherwise, they can be used straight from the freezer.
Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Raspberries
Raspberries are delicious and healthful fruits that many people enjoy, but don’t buy all that often. If you buy some for a specific use and have some extra berries, you may be looking for ways to use up the surplus. Here are some suggestions…
* For the most nutritional value, use your raspberries in the whole form, including the seeds. This applies to whether they are fresh or frozen. Research has shown that many nutrients (including phytonutrients) are lost in the process of removing seeds from the berries.
* Mix raspberries with breakfast porridge, whether hot oatmeal, millet, couscous or some other grain.
* Fresh raspberries mixed with a splash of balsamic vinegar actually blends well together and may be a delicious flavor twist to a fruit salad.
* A raspberry puree can be used as a sauce over poultry, desserts, and fruit salads.
* Add some frozen raspberries to muffins, cakes, or brownies for a sweet-tart flavor boost.
* Drop some frozen berries into a cold beverage like lemonade or iced tea.
* Scatter some raspberries on a green salad.
* Top yogurt with some raspberries.
* Make a delicious parfait by layering yogurt, banana slices, raspberries, and even some granola. Top with a drizzle of chocolate or caramel sauce.
* Add raspberries, grapes and walnuts to a chicken salad.
* Blend raspberries with a little water and use that as a sauce to top desserts, ice cream, and even breakfast foods like pancakes and waffles.
Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Raspberries
Cinnamon, cloves, ginger, mint, pepper (black), star anise, thyme, vanilla
Foods That Go Well with Raspberries
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Almonds, chicken, duck, ham, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, nuts (in general), pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, poppy seeds, pork, turkey
Vegetables: Asparagus, greens (salad), rhubarb, spinach (fresh)
Fruits: Apples, apricots, bananas, berries (all types), citrus fruits, figs, grapefruit, grapes, lemon, lime, mangoes, melons, nectarines, orange, papaya, peaches, pears, pineapple, plums, quince, tangerine, watermelon
Grains and Grain Products: Graham crackers, oats, oatmeal
Dairy and Non-Dairy: Buttermilk, cheese, cream, crème fraiche, ice cream, mascarpone, milk, sour cream, yogurt
Other Foods: Chocolate (white and dark), honey, liqueurs, maple syrup, oil, sugar, vinegar (esp. balsamic, red wine, sherry), wine
Raspberries have been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Baked goods, beverages, coulis (a thin vegetable or fruit puree), desserts, pancakes, preserves, salad dressings, salads, sauces, smoothies, sorbets
Suggested Flavor Combos Using Raspberries
Add raspberries to any of the following combinations…
Apricots + mint
Brown sugar + cinnamon + oats
Honey + lemon + yogurt
Mango + peaches
Mint + pistachios
10-Minute Fresh Berry Dessert with Yogurt and Chocolate http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=147
5-Minute Raspberry Almond Parfait http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=256
Raspberry Asparagus Medley https://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/raspberry-asparagus-medley
Granola with Fresh Fruit http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=121
Sassy Frozen Raspberry Smoothie http://www.redrazz.org/recipe/sassy-frozen-raspberry-smoothie/
Raspberry Lassi http://www.redrazz.org/recipe/raspberry-lassi/
Razz Crush Red Party Punch http://www.redrazz.org/recipe/razz-crush-red-party-punch/
Raspberry Apple Granola Crumble http://www.redrazz.org/recipe/raspberryapplegranolacrumble/
Red Raspberry Fruit Leather http://www.redrazz.org/recipe/red-raspberry-fruit-leather/
Vegan Raspberry Pudding http://www.redrazz.org/recipe/vegan-raspberry-pudding/
Raspberry Sauce/Glaze http://www.redrazz.org/recipe/raspberry-sauceglaze/
Raspberry Pineapple Salsa http://www.redrazz.org/recipe/raspberry-pineapple-salsa/
Frozen Red Raspberry Crush http://www.redrazz.org/recipe/frozen-red-raspberry-crush/
Raspberry Ginger Glazed Salmon http://www.redrazz.org/recipe/raspberry-ginger-glazed-salmon/
Instant Pot Chipotle Raspberry-Glazed Ribs http://www.redrazz.org/recipe/instant-pot-chipotle-raspberry-glazed-ribs/
Grilled Pork with Balsamic-Red Raspberry Reduction http://www.redrazz.org/recipe/grilled-pork-with-balsamic-red-raspberry-reduction/
Raspberry, Avocado, and Mango Salad http://www.redrazz.org/recipe/raspberry-avocado-mango-salad/
Black Rice and Raspberry Salad http://www.redrazz.org/recipe/black-rice-and-raspberry-salad/
Black Bean Tacos with Sassy Raspberry Salsa http://www.redrazz.org/recipe/black-bean-tacos-with-sassy-raspberry-salsa/
Page, Karen. (2014) The Vegetarian Flavor Bible. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company.
Julia W. Klee (Judi) began her journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.