Oh yes, it’s time to head back into the brush and talk about berries once more, specifically the raspberry. We’ve already talked about raspberries? Well let’s do it again why not? They’re that great! When thinking of something you can easily pluck from a bush on the go, raspberries very readily spring to mind, especially because they can be eaten by themselves or within so many other things. It’s even one of the flavors that gets used in candies on a regular basis, which is definitely how I judge success. So, for today’s nutrition facts article I figured we could take some time and look into the little red berries, giving them their proper dues. Sound like a plan? Well good, because that’s what’s about to happen!
Raspberry Culture and History
I’m always pleased when the food item getting featured has a history that traces its lineage all the way back, and I do mean all the way. It’s the longevity that appeals to me, like it’s not a fad or anything. The raspberry doesn’t disappoint me as it has its origin dating back to prehistoric history. Wait, can prehistoric be considered history…? No matter.
With this prehistoric birth, raspberries first took a deep breath and said hello to their native land, eastern Asia, or possibly somewhere in North America. Eh, it’s not really clear as raspberries didn’t keep a very good record of what they were up to for so many years. Point is, the Bering Strait served as a nice traveling route for animals and humans and such who happened to be carrying raspberries at the time, which meant that they were able to spread far and wide (never wide and far).
What’s really fascinating to me is how back during Flintstones times, cavemen (and cavewomen I suppose) regularly went about picking raspberries, but were very discriminatory to the berries that weren’t large enough to really eat, so they’d pick the smaller berries and then discard them later. Apparently they couldn’t be bothered to just leave them on the plant, but whatever, this resulted in raspberries getting spread wide and far (see, it just doesn’t work).
That’s only wild raspberries though. The cultivated and domestic version of raspberries that we currently eat didn’t show up until at least some point after the year 1000 AD. The first time anyone actually wrote about them was in 1548 in an English book about herbal medicine. By the 19th century, Europe and North America were both in the grips of a raspberry expansion, so wild bushes were growing everywhere and new varieties were popping up left and right, such as the boysenberry and the loganberry. And that’s where we are today. Nothing beats the free raspberries if you ask me!
Health Benefits of Raspberries
Seeing as how these are berries, and seeing as how berries are technically fruits, raspberries adhere to the usual expectations that you’d assume from that labeling. It means that raspberries are high in antioxidants, making them great for the immune system and the ability to reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, so you know, good for you and all.
But that’s all very simplistic and doesn’t quite do justice to how great raspberries really are. I wouldn’t be writing up a sequel article elaborating on them if they didn’t have a lot to uniquely call their own, and that of course comes in a special mixture of antioxidants, but also from the fact that they have a large helping of vitamin C, vitamins B1, B2, and B3, some folic acid, some copper, some iron, some magnesium, and even a nice bit of dietary fiber, which as we all know is the stuff that helps your body to digest things best.
Beyond that, one thing to note is that raspberries are prone to a disease called Verticillium Wilt, which is actually a kind of fungus that will destroy raspberries planted in soul that previously held potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, or bulbs. I’m a bit surprised to hear that myself as you just assume that as long as something can be planted in fertile soil that it should grow, but apparently this is one of those times where knowledge of botany comes in handy. So there you go, if you’re planning on planting some raspberry bushes of your own, be careful not to plant them in soil that you’ve used to grow potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, or bulbs unless you’ve properly fumigated it. Learn something new all the time!
Eating More Raspberries
For me, as with for everyone else I’m sure, nothing quite beats the pleasure of walking around with a bowl and collecting raspberries fresh from the vines, then just eating them at your leisure. Some people probably prefer to eat them with a bit of cream poured over them, or with a small helping of confectionary sugar, but I’ll all about going old school and just eating them right as I pluck them. The simple joys of life are sometimes the best!
Of course, I’m not opposed to the typical variety of pastries and such that involve adding raspberries in order to make an otherwise simple baked good something wonderfully amazing. Muffins? Those are good, but add some raspberries and they become better. Pancakes? Sure, delightful, but add some raspberries and they’re exceptional. Pie? Cake? Cookies? Put some raspberries in, on, or around that! Got a salad? Bleck, why are you shifting away from desserts to tell me about salads? Okay, you can put raspberries in salads as well.
That’s one of the greatest abilities that all berries have: their universal additive properties. You could name essentially any dish, any one at all, and I’d say that you could add some whole raspberries, a raspberry sauce, a raspberry glaze, or a raspberry anything, and it would just work. That’s actually my challenge to you: Find something that you can’t add raspberries to, and by “can’t” I mean a food item that I wouldn’t eat if you added raspberries to it. Can you do it? Let’s see!
So there you go, that’s the challenge for you all reading! Why do you love raspberries so much? And how do you prefer to eat them? Leave a comment and let me know, plus you’ve got to stump me with a food item that raspberries would go terrible with! Let’s have some fun with this!