Choose brightly colored plump berries without hulls. If they contain hulls, they were picked too early.
Check carefully for moldy, shriveled or soft berries.
Fragile and perishable, raspberries are best stored in a single layer in a moisture-proof container in the refrigerator.
Rinse if necessary, but only before serving.
Serve them or use them in recipes as soon as possible. Like the last lovely days of summer, they only keep for a very short time, a day or two at most.
Where to pick themThe U-pick fields for Heidi’s Raspberry Farm are in Valencia County, with berries starting to come in this week.
Check heidisraspberryjam.com or call 505-898-1784 for information.
New Mexico is blessed with two realms of cultivated raspberry heaven. Salman Raspberry Ranch in Mora and Heidi’s Raspberries in Los Lunas offer U-pick fields perfect for family outings.
A sibling of the blackberry and offspring of the rose, raspberries come in colors from white through yellow, orange, pink, purple and black. More than 200 varieties exist.
Originally cultivated by the Greeks, they obtained their red color, according to myth, when the god Zeus, still a child, screamed furiously at the mountains.
The Nymph Ida, daughter of the King of Crete, and Zeus’ nursemaid, attempted to quiet him with the offer of a raspberry. But she scratched her breast (another version says pricked her finger) on the shrub’s spines, staining the berries red forevermore.
In addition to the fruit, raspberry leaves are valued as a traditional women’s remedy for cramps. During the Middle Ages, the juice was used as a natural dye.
If you love raspberries, then whether they show up in jam, vinegar, sauce or smoothies, whether they are sprinkled on cereal or whether they are served up in a bowl of fresh berries plain or topped with cream, just about any of these will make you very happy.
With ample amounts of iron, potassium, and vitamins A and C, they are as good for you as they are tasty.
Named 2014 Organic Farmer of the Year by New Mexico Department of Agriculture, Corrales native Heidi Eleftheriou started growing raspberries when she was 15.
Heidi Eleftheriou started growing raspberries when she was 15. (Sharon Niederman/For the Albuquerque Journal)
She longed for a jam that retained the fresh flavor of the berry, so she developed her own low-sugar recipe using cane syrup and cooking it on a low boil. “I want it to taste fresh, like fresh berries,” she says.
To her original raspberry jam, sold directly at farmers’ markets in Albuquerque, Los Alamos and Santa Fe, Heidi has created and added raspberry jams flavored with red chile, ginger and the newest taste sensation, lavender. Some of her favorite uses are straight from the jar as a glaze for grilled meat or spooned over goat cheese or brie.
“My dad was a biology professor at UNM (the University of New Mexico), so we always had a vegetable garden, and I grew up connected to the land,” she says.
She cultivates her raspberries in fields only a mile from where she grew up.