While juicy tomatoes, crisp corn-on-the-cob and multiple shapes of zucchini abound, nothing announces summer's arrival like perfectly plump raspberries. Savouring the sweettart flavour of this delicate, velvet-textured fruit can be one of the most sensual experiences of the season.
Of all the summer produce available to us, a cup of raspberries is one of the highest sources of dietary fibre, not to mention a decent provider of the nutrients, manganese, folic acid, magnesium, vitamin C and potassium.
To boot, the professional organization, Dietitians of Canada, reports that some scientific evidence suggests that raspberries may decrease our risk of developing lung cancer because of its content of quercetin-a powerful antioxidant that's responsible for the bramble fruit's intense red colour.
For maximum flavour and quality, it's best to eat or freeze raspberries within one to two days of bringing them home. Because raspberries are highly perishable, extreme care should be taken when storing them. After removing any stems and spoiled berries, place the raspberries back in their original container, unwashed, and store in the refrigerator. When ready to use, lightly rinse the bramble fruit with water in a colander and drain well. Let dry on paper towels or an absorbent tea towel.
Raspberries can be frozen by spreading them out on cookie sheets and then placed in the freezer. After 24 hours, transfer individually frozen raspberries to a heavy plastic bag or container, label with the date, and put back in the freezer. The berries should keep for a year. Defrosting raspberries is best done in the refrigerator overnight. This allows the fruit to retain its shape as ice crystals slowly melt.
One of my favourite ways to prepare fresh raspberries is making a no-cookingrequired freezer jam with little added sugar. The recipe uses pectin crystals that are specifically designed for freezer jams with a minimal sugar content and the end result maintains the fruit's fresh, subtly tart, flavour.
Stash a few jars in the back of your freezer for the colder months ahead. On dreary, wet winter mornings, home-made raspberry jam will taste like sunshine spread on toast or dolloped on freshly baked scones. It's also delicious swirled into yogurt or as a topping for ice cream or pavlova.
Quick Raspberry Freezer Jam
Ingredients: 3 cups (750 ml) crushed
raspberries (use a potato masher)
4 teaspoons (20 ml) fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons (25ml) granulated sugar
1 package (49 grams) Certo pectin crystals
Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl until there are no traces of pectin crystals. Let stand for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Divide mixture evenly into sterile jam jars leaving a 1/4-inch (0.5 cm) head space in each container. Let stand at room temperature for 24 hours once the lid has been tightly secured. Store in refrigerator for three weeks or in the freezer for eight months. Makes about three cups.
Linda watts is a registered dietitian. Send questions to email@example.com.