baking with the bramblefruits…

Some of us have been waiting all year for this, and finally, the time has come: raspberry and blackberry season! Both blackberries and raspberries, technically considered to be ‘Bramblefruits’, are part of the rose family. They don’t fit the ‘Berry’ category because they are aggregate fruits – made up of a bunch of small seed cases, which is big part of what makes them so uniquely textured, juicy, and delicious! Both raspberries and blackberries are considered ‘superfoods’ – that is, they are really good for you and contain lots of nutrients and antioxidants.

Raspberries, of which there are more than 200 species, and which grow in various shades of gold, purple, black, and white, are particularly high in Vitamin C, foliate, and fiber. Meanwhile, blackberries, of which there are 40 known species, are prized for their high content of the mineral manganese, and for their seeds, which contain a profusion of both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Raspberries and blackberries differ also in their shape – raspberries are naturally hollow in their centers, and are smaller and more fragile than blackberries, giving them a supple, “melt in your mouth” texture. Unfortunately, this fragility makes raspberries quite perishable, hard to ship, and hard to keep – experts recommend choosing firm, brightly colored raspberries, and to freeze them with a bit of lemon juice if you don’t plan to eat them within 48 hours of their purchasing. Amazingly, despite being so touchy when unfrozen, raspberries keep frozen quite well, and can be keep that way for up to a year. Blackberries are a bit heartier than their red cousins, and can be kept longer refrigerated without going bad. However, watch out – don’t be tricked by unripe blackberries, which are red instead of green! Bite into one of these red blackberries and you’ll be in for a surprise – they are quite bitter, and not very palate pleasing.

How can you get your hands on some of this seasons delicious Bramblefruits? We recommend getting some at a local farmer’s market, or checking out our “pick your own” listings. Sunnycrest Farm in NH or Evergreen Berry Farm in CT are just two of our farms which offer “pick your own” opportunities. How should Local Pickins readers enjoy these brightly colored treats? Luckily for everyone, July isn’t just a great month for Bramblefruits – it’s also a fantastic time for pies and tarts!

One of our favorite tart recipes is from Martha Stewart’s Pies and Tarts cookbooks.   A simple butter crust tart shell baked and cooled, then filled with one pint of sweetened whipped heavy cream, finally topped with carefully arranged brambleberries of your choice, and viola…you have a delicious tart! Although raspberries and blackberries are both stand well on their own in tarts, they’re also quite tasty in conjunction with other fruits, such as peaches. A mouth-watering, and super seasonal, peach-raspberry-blackberry pie, served warm with some vanilla ice cream: you can’t get more summery than that!

For the adventurous readers out there, I hear that raspberries are incredible served with nothing more complicated than a little balsamic vinegar – I don’t know about you, but I’m going to try that next time I get my hands on some of these fuchsia gems!

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