The Late Raspberry
Not long after we moved to Boonville, we were gifted with 3 raspberry plants, variety unknown. We chose a site on the property which received a little shade and where the plants would be free to spread. Being a novice at the cultivation of berries, I plunged into my research like a woman obsessed, and hit a wall right out of the gate. Were my raspberries “spring bearing” or “ever-bearing”? Of course, I had no idea.
After several seasons of staking the plants and pruning them within an inch of their fruit-bearing lives, I realized that they were ever-bearing, meaning that they bear a lot of fruit on second-year canes in spring and also produce a smaller autumn crop. And after years of experimentation with all sorts of complicated schemes to keep track of how old the canes are, I have simplified. At this point I just go by how tired the canes look, pruning the old ones to the ground as soon as the autumn harvest is over.
Freezing is by far the best method for putting up the harvest. During the season, I keep a sheet pan in the freezer on which to spread out a single layer of berries. Once they are frozen, I put them in a re-closeable, quart-sized zip-lock bag, expressing out all of the excess air and ensuring that the “zipper” is tightly closed. When the bag is full, I start a new one, marking it with the date. This method not only allows the berries to retain their shape, it also allows you to remove and thaw only the amount you actually need for your recipe.
There is something really special about having fresh raspberries when autumn arrives. And I must confess, few of these little gems make it to the table or the freezer. The truth is, there aren’t that many of them at this time of year, and the temptation to pop them directly into my mouth is simply too great!