Here in the UK the raspberry season is about to begin and you’ll find us gardeners, for the next two or three months, entangled in bird netting and wrestling with the thorny task of harvesting … that is, if we can get to the crop before the mice.
Raspberries seem to have become such a major addition to our cottage gardens and vegetable plots it’s hard to believe that they didn’t become popular with us until the 17th century. But it was during the 18th century when cookery writers truly explored the merits of raspberries – in wines, vinegars, desserts and jams.
Raspberries, apart from being extremely tasty, have significant health benefits, making it an ideal addition to your 5 a day fruit and veg intake. A 50g (approx 4 oz) portion of raspberries provides almost 50% of your recommended daily intake of Vitamin C and a good amount of fibre and antioxidants which have been shown to reduce heart disease, high blood pressure, and some neurological (brain!) and liver disorders and diseases and, although research is still ongoing on this one, in preventing some forms of cancer. They’ve also been used in the treatment of sore eyes and throats and to help clean your teeth amongst other things.
They’re a brilliantly adaptable fruit as not only are they wonderful if eaten fresh or preserved in jams or jellies, but they’ll freeze easily and can then be taken out and once the season’s over used as fresh!
If you’re not worried about healthy living then celebrate the coming season by adding a few of these ruby red berries to a glass of champagne, or, if skint or miserly – I’d like to think I’m amongst the former rather than the latter category - a glass of fizzy white wine. It adds flavour as well as a lovely rosy glow. I’ve also on occasions added them to vodka and tonic and, for those of you teetotallers, try a few in a glass of elderberry cordial which has been diluted with soda water or tonic water. It’s delicious!
Over the next couple of months or so, I’m hoping to dig out some quick and easy raspberry recipes and I’m looking forward to delving deep to get hold of some savoury dishes as well as sweet!
And just a little bit of trivia for you all, particular the Scots amongst you, did you know that Scotland is one of the best countries for raspberry growing most certainly within the UK, and in the late 1950s once harvested, these fruits were taken all the way from this bonny country to Covent Garden in London by steam train which was affectionately known as The Raspberry Special!!