This red brambleberry has much to offer

Fresh Michigan raspberries are available during a short time but are easily preserved.

Raspberries and blackberries grow on bramble bushes. Bramble bushes, also known as brambles, are rough-barked, thorny and prickly. Brambles produce bramble fruit including raspberries and blackberries. There is really no true brambleberry. Brambleberry refers to the different kinds of fruit that grow on bramble bushes. Brambles are related to the rose family, with similar prickly thorns. 

According to the Michigan produce availability guide, produced by Michigan State University Extension, Michigan raspberries are generally available in July and then again the end of August and into September.  

There are red, black, yellow and purple raspberries now. The purple kind is a cross between the black and red raspberry, and the yellow type is a mutant red raspberry.

Raspberry plants like to be in full sun where they will produce the most fruit. They need pruning every year and will start producing fruit a year after planting. Rabbits love to nibble on raspberry canes in the winter. Using chicken wire fencing around plants can help prevent rabbits from damaging it.

Raspberries ripen quickly, so pick them as they become ripe. Raspberries are ready to pick when their color is bright and the berry comes off the plant easily when gently pulled.

Raspberries are very delicate. To avoid crushing the fruit when picking and storing, place them in shallow containers or plastic bags with holes or slots to allow for air circulation. Fresh raspberries should be stored in the refrigerator.

Raspberries only keep about two to three days, so plan to use them or freeze them within that time. Due to the tenderness of raspberries, it is not recommended to wash them under running tap water, instead place them in a colander and dunk the colander into a bowl of cold water several times. For longer storage rinse raspberries only when you are ready to eat or prepare them. The moisture will cause them to break down, spoil and mold if not used right away.

Raspberries are rich in vitamin C and a good source of fiber. One-half to one pound of raspberries provide 20-30 grams of fiber. They may even lower high blood cholesterol levels and slow the release of carbohydrates into the blood stream of those folks with diabetes.

Raspberries can be frozen or canned and can be made into one of my favorite jams: red raspberry. Always follow directions carefully when preserving all your food by using research-based recipes found in updated Ball Blue Books, So Easy to Preserve, the USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning and Preserving and updated Extension bulletins.

Check out the Michigan Fresh site to find out more about raspberries and a multitude of other fruits and vegetables.

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