Raspberries are of species of Rubus Occidentalis that is native to eastern North America. Other names associated with this include wild blackberry, bear’s eye blackberry, blackcaps, blackcap raspberry, and scotch cap.
They grow as a deciduous shrub that is 2-3 meters tall, with spikey shoots. The leaves are pinnate, with five leaflets on leaves and three leaflets on leaves on blooming branches. The flowers have unique long, slender sepals that are 6-8mm long, more than twice as long as the petals.
So, can you eat wild raspberries? Yes, you can. The round-shaped fruit is a 10-15mm diameter aggregation of drupelets. It is edible and contains a high content of anthocyanin and ellagic acid. They appear as dark purple and red fruits with a distinct flavor.
Where Can You Find Wild Raspberries?
If you are good at foraging your fruits rather than buying them from the grocery store, you are likely to ask yourself where you can find wild raspberries. As the name suggests, these flavorful little fruits can grow in the least expected places. They sprout and grow to maturity without any preparation or care at all.
The most common places you are likely to find wild raspberries are roadside ditches, forest edges, abandoned gravel pits, and open fields. Homesteads long-abandoned provide a suitable habitat for raspberries, especially on plant pots or once manicured gardens that have since gone wild.
Wild raspberry stands can grow quite dense if left untended since older stems become overcrowded by younger blooming branches. It might look like an ordinary shrub to any unknowing person, but once the flowers bloom, pinkish-red raspberries appear and are hard to miss.
How Can You Harvest Wild Raspberries?
After finding or coming across a shrub of beautiful and attractive wild raspberries, you are more likely to feel the urge to stretch your bare hand and reach for the goodness. Be warned you will regret your decision as soon as your fingertips get the berry. The prickly little thorns will tell a different story.
So, how can you harvest wild raspberries safely? Since they ripen during hot seasons, be on the safe side, apply sunscreen on your exposed skin, and preferably have a hat. An insect repellant will come in handy to keep off mosquitos and other insects. Wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, and gloves to prevent being pricked by the thorns. If they are on rough terrain, be sure to wear sturdy shoes to avoid falling over rocks.
Make a hands-free system by tying a string to a container and wear it around your neck while harvesting. Along woodlands or a forest, Beware of your surroundings since you might get a visit from berry-loving animals such as bears.
What are the Health Benefits of Wild Raspberries?
Wild raspberries have several benefits that will improve your health. They contain the following nutrients in a 123g cup:
- Water 105.0 g
- Energy 64 calories
- Protein 1.5 g
- Carbohydrate 14.7 g, of which 5.4 g is sugar
- Fiber 8.0 g
- Calcium 30.8 mg
- Magnesium 27.1 mg
- Iron 0.8 mg
- Phosphorus 35.7 mg
- Potassium 186.0 mg
- Zinc 0.5 mg
- Copper 0.1 mg
- Manganese 0.8 mg
- Selenium 0.2 micrograms (mcg)
- Vitamin C 32.2mg
- Folate 25.8 mcg
- Choline15.1 mg
- Vitamin E 1.1 mg
- Vitamin K 9.6 mcg
- Lutein + zeaxanthin 167.0 mcg
- Alpha-carotene 19.7 mcg
- Beta carotene 14.8 mcg
Raspberries contain antioxidant contents, which help prevent several health conditions. Examples of antioxidants present are; vitamins C and E, selenium, lutein, zeaxanthin, beta carotene, and lycopene. They help the body get rid of toxins known as free radicals produced through metabolic processes or by unhealthy foods and pollution.
The following are the benefits of antioxidants found in raspberries:
- They Improve Brainpower
Consuming foods rich in antioxidants contribute to better health of the brain and neurological system. Vitamins C and E found in raspberries help balance you ability to think and recall information as you age.
- They Reduce Risk of Cardiovascular Diseases
Anthocyanins are flavonoids found in raspberries that can suppress inflammation, which may lead to cardiovascular diseases. Some antioxidants may reduce the risk of heart problems by preventing platelet build-up.
It will help in lowering the blood pressure using anti-inflammatory mechanisms.
The American Heart Association encourages an increase in potassium intake, which is available in raspberries, to avoid the rise in blood pressure, thus reducing the risk of cardio diseases.
- Helps in Diabetes Management
Raspberries contain antioxidants that help prevent inflammation hence reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes. Dietary fiber is also a nutrient that helps lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and improve people living with this disease.
In managing diabetes, raspberries provide natural sugars; hence there is no need to add any sugar to the diet.
How to Increase the Shelf Life of Wild Raspberries
Option 1: Refrigeration
As soon as you get your raspberries home, refrigerate them immediately without washing since they tend to crumble easily after harvest. However, you can wash them when you are ready to use them.
Option 2: Freezing
For future use, you can wash them carefully, dry them with paper towels, and freeze raspberries until firm to avoid sticking together. Once frozen, place them in safe containers or plastic bags.
What are Other Uses of Raspberries?
You might have been overwhelmed while harvesting and taken more than you needed. Not to worry because there are other ways to use your wild raspberries, such as,
- Make raspberry applesauce as a dessert.
- Mix them with your daily cereal, such as oatmeal, to add flavor and texture.
- Make yourself a raspberry smoothie or add them to a different fruit smoothie.
- Add them to your salads, such as spinach salads.
- Bake yourself some raspberry muffins and add taste to your pastries.
- Wild raspberries are not limited to where they can grow. Thus, you are likely to come across them in several places such as road ditches, an abandoned homestead, and gravel pits.
- Always be careful and wear protective gear when harvesting wild raspberries.
- Wild raspberries contain numerous nutrients that take part in keeping you healthy such as, anti-inflammatory elements and antioxidants.
- You can freeze or refrigerate raspberries to increase shelf life.
- Apart from eating them whole, you can use raspberries to make desserts, smoothies, salads, and pastries.