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Raspberries

Raspberries belong to the rose family.  Although called a berry, technically it is a cluster of small individual drupelets that are held together by very fine threads (hairs).  Each drupelet is an individual fruit with its own seed.  The oval or conical shaped raspberry encloses a white or yellow central core (receptacle) that comes away from the raspberry when picked and remains on the plant.  This leaves the raspberry with a hollow core.

Raspberries grow wild in many cooler regions of the Northern Hemisphere and are also cultivated.  There are many varieties that range in color from black, purple, red, pink, and amber to white.  The most common are red (about 90%) followed by amber and black varieties. 

When buying raspberries look for fragrant, deeply colored, plump and juicy berries without the cores attached.  If the core is still attached the raspberry was picked too early and the berry will be sour.  Avoid berries that are soft and mushy or have any bruises, black spots or mold.  Always check the underside of the container to make sure there are no squashed berries or red stains. 

Raspberries are a very delicate fruit and have a sweet, slightly acidic flavor when first picked.  They soften quickly so they are best used immediately but can be stored overnight on a single paper towel lined tray.  Do not soak in water as their hollow core will fill with water and they will be less flavorful. 

Raspberries are used extensively in desserts.  What restaurant does not serve a raspberry sauce or puree  Also used in jams and preserves, ice creams, souffle and flans, vinegar, liqueurs and brandy.

1/2 dry pint = 1 cup

FACTS:

- Raspberries are available in the spring and summer months.

- The best tasting raspberries are grown wild.

- Have a sweet but sharp flavor.

- Raspberries prefer a cooler-growing climate.

- Two species of red raspberry: European and North American.

- Raspberries grow on thorny vines that make them difficult to pick and therefore expensive to buy.

- A member of genus Rubus.

- If fresh are not available a good substitute is frozen raspberries.