These small, deeply colored fruits are harvested from the prickly Rubus shrub, a member of the rose family. They are known as "aggregate fruits" because they are composed of many seed-containing fruit sections called drupelets. With a tender texture, subtly tart taste and pleasantly sweet aroma, raspberries are simply wonderful whether eaten out of hand, or added to salads, pies, desserts and sauces.
According to Greek mythology, raspberries were once all white in color. But one day a nymph picking raspberries for baby Zeus pricked her finger on a thorn. Her blood stained the berries a brilliant shade of red.
In addition to red (the most widely available), the two other main raspberry varieties are golden and black. The black raspberry is indigenous only to eastern North America. Raspberries are also cultivated in shades of white, pink, orange or purple.
Depending on the region, fresh raspberries are in peak season from May through November. They are available at some markets year-round. While red raspberries are easy to find, you will likely have to visit a specialty produce market for the black and golden varieties.
Choose bright, plump berries without hulls. If the hulls are still attached, this is a sign the berries were picked too early and they will be tart. Also check the bottom of the see-through container for berries that are unripe, bruised or moldy. The cardboard should be free of juice stains (a sign that the berries were crushed).
Frozen raspberries are available in bags year-round.
Place berries in a single layer in a moisture-proof container. Refrigerate and enjoy within two to three days.
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