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 Raspberry

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Kawthar
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PostSubject: Raspberry   Mon May 05, 2008 12:25 pm

Raspberry



One of the most delicate and delicious fruits available, raspberries are thought by many to rival strawberries as the finest fruit available. Growing on short-lived canes that constantly spring up from a suckering root system, raspberries are extremely perishable.

The varieties we see in supermarkets are some of the most durable around; they need to be, to survive the experience of picking, transport and retail; unfortunately, this means they also lose a great deal of taste. As always, the best ones will be those grown by the home gardener for immediate consumption off the plant - they are really easy to grow too, see further down the page for more information.

Raspberries are not only available in red; you can also get black, purple and yellow varieties. Technically, they are not a berry but an aggregate fruit; the small round red globes that make up the raspberry itself are called drupelets. In raspberries, when the fruit is picked, the conical core remains on the plant and separates from the fruit, whereas in blackberries, the drupelets stay attached to the core.

Raspberries are known to contain high amounts of polyphenol antioxidants, chemicals linked to good skin and cardiovascular health. An artificial sweetener called xylitol is also extracted from raspberries.

When picking raspberries in a store, try to pick ones without the centre core; if they have this, they were probably picked too early and will be tart. Raspberries that are ripe will easily come off the core.



History
Raspberries are native to Europe and Asia, in particular in hilly areas and heaths on the edge of woodland, particularly favouring acidic soil. They grow wild in Scandinavia quite far north, and can tolerate some degree of cold. Remains of seeds have been found in prehistoric village ruins in Switzerland, proving they were eaten for many a year, but they were largely ignored by many writers, in particular the Greeks and Romans who brought about cultivation of so many of our fruit and vegetable crops we love today.

Raspberries were not a popular cultivated fruit in Europe until the 16th century, and are not believed to have been popular in ancient times - if they were there is little proof of it. Because of the nature of the plant however, a bramble, it is likely it was commonly picked as a wild fruit instead. There were first recorded as a cultivated fruit in 1548 when an English herbalist called Turner wrote of them. But even now, they were used as a garden plant rather than cultivated in any great amount. In 1629, an entire chapter of a book was finally devoted to the cultivation of the raspberry, but they didn't achieve commonplace status until the mid 1700s.

In America, it was a similar picture; most early cultivation in America was grossly overrun by native plants, and raspberries were not mentioned in detail until 1771. In the middle of the 19th century a great deal of work was done improving the European red varieties by Brinckle


Uses
As well as used as an out of hand food source for their fruit, raspberries are commonly used to make jams or jellies, but also raspberry wine or vinegar, and sweets. They were also used as a cure for sore eyes and throats. Raspberry tea is also good for helping pregnant women with morning sickness in particular.

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