Food and Drink

   

In Season: Raspberries

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I grew up in a raspberry growing area and we spent hours as children picking wild raspberries every summer. Our favourites were the yellow ones, which you can find in shops a little later in the season. They are slightly less acidic and have a more subtle flavour, akin to the difference between red and yellow tomatoes, which can be difficult to describe. According to mythology, raspberries were originally white, until the nymph Ida pricked her finger while picking some for her crying baby, Jupiter, and raspberries became stained with her blood.

Always sought after, at times they have been very expensive. In1840 the United States presidential campaigner Martin Van Buren was maligned by his opponents as ‘wallowing in raspberries’, he was so wealthy and extravagant.

Raspberries are packed with antioxidants, the main one being Ellagic acid, which you can buy as a dietary supplement. They also contain anthocyanins, the pigments responsible for the colour in berries which, apart from also being antioxidants, also have anti-bacterial properties. Preliminary results of studies indicate that, after eating a raspberry diet for 3 weeks, animals diagnosed with cancer show a decrease in cancer cell growth. Research has also indicated that raspberries preserved by freezing lose very little of these properties, while other forms of processing do.

Raspberries can be frozen for up to a year if you first lay them on a flat tray and transfer them into bags once they are solid.

Raspberries are very perishable and deteriorate quickly with excessive handling or heat, so eat them within one or two days of purchase. Look for those appearing firm, plump, bright red and loosely packed. Also make sure there’s no liquid in the bottom of the container. If you’re picking your own, pick only those that are ripe, and ‘pick themselves’ by falling off when plucked gently as they don’t ripen after picking. Pick them early in the morning as they will be sweeter and will keep longer. And don’t wash raspberries, they absorb water and will become mushy.

Being quite acidic, raspberries usually need to be tossed in, or dusted with, castor sugar. They are a great foil for the richness of chocolaty desserts.

Here’s a quick and easy, ‘no-churn’ raspberry ice-cream that will make a great summer dessert.

Raspberry semi-freddo (serves 6)
Ingredients:
350g raspberries
2 egg whites
120g caster sugar
450ml cream
55g icing sugar
2 tbs framboise, or any fruit liqeur (optional)

Method:
Leaving 50g of the raspberries aside for decorating, puree the remaining raspberries in a food processor with the caster sugar and liquer. Then push them through a sieve to remove the seeds.

Whip the cream with the icing sugar to soft peaks.

Whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks.

Gently fold the raspberry puree into the cream, followed by the stiff egg whites.

Pour into a container, or into six small moulds or ramekins, and freeze overnight.

Tip out the moulds onto plates, or scoop out with an ice-cream scoop and garnish with the reserved raspberries after tossing gently in castor sugar.


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