Raspberries, the most intensely flavored member of the berry family, are made up of connected drupelets (individual sections of juicy pulp, each with a single seed) surrounding a central core. The most common raspberries are red, but you’ll find black, golden, and even pink raspberries at farmers’ markets and specialty stores. The differences in flavor are subtle, but a mix is beautiful.
Like most fruit these days, raspberries are available just about year-round, but it's best to take advantage of those few weeks in summer when local raspberries call your name at the farmers’ market. Depending on the region, they are available from May through November.
Raspberries love to be paired with lemon, chocolate, ginger, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, coconut, fresh figs, mint, and stone fruit of all sort
Look for plump, fragrant berries. When shopping, examine the box to check for freshness. If you see juice stains, it’s probably a sign of moldy berries inside. Hold the closed raspberry container upside down. If berries stick to the bottom inside liner, they’re crushed and it’s likely some are moldy, so choose another box. Even in the height of summer, berries are a bit of an investment, so befriend your produce merchant and request a taste before you buy.
Despite that big explosion of berry flavor, raspberries are extremely fragile. Washing berries isn’t ideal, but if you want to be safe, wash them right before using them. Fill a bowl with cold water, gently add the berries, and then lift them out with your hands—again, gently. Let the berries dry in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with paper towels.
If you're baking with raspberries, be sure to taste your berries before starting the recipe. If the berries are very sweet, you may want to reduce the sugar a little. On the other hand, if they seem a bit lackluster, a bit more sugar, some lemon juice, and even a pinch of salt will do wonders to amp up flavor.
Local raspberries appear for such a brief time in summer you need to pounce while you can and indulge. If you have more berries than you know what to do with, freeze them in a single layer and then transfer them to zip-top bags and stash them in the freezer. And there they’ll be, waiting to wow you months after berry season has gone.