Seeing the tiny boxes of raspberries at the market reminds me of summers picking flats of berries in my family’s raspberry patch. One time, I glanced over my shoulder to see my horse’s muzzle covered in pink foam. He had been enjoying the fruits of my labor.
Washington grows about 60 percent of the U.S. raspberry crop. When choosing berries look for ones that are tender, plump and a bright color. Containers that are stained and damp could be signs of overripe fruit. If you head out to the U-pick farms, pick berries that separate easily from the stems. Pick those that are ripe, as raspberries do not generally ripen or get sweeter after picking.
To maximize the freshness of raspberries, refrigerate unwashed berries in a loosely covered breathable container. Place the container towards the front of the refrigerator as the back or crisper drawers are typically the coldest area. When ready to eat, do not rinse under running water as the pressure of the water can crush them. Instead, place the berries in a colander and dip in a bowl of cold water, swish the berries and allow them to drain. Place berries on a paper towel in a single layer and pat dry.
They can spoil quickly. If you find them getting too soft, process them in a blender. You can use the puree to top waffles or pancakes in place of syrup. Or you can dry the puree in a food dehydrator to make fruit leather.
You can also freeze raspberries to enjoy year-round. Place them in a single layer on a tray, freeze, and then pack into airtight containers and store in the freezer.
Raspberry Oat Bars
Source: Chef Scotty. Yield: 12 servings
1 pint raspberries
1 tablespoon date paste
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons ground chia seeds
2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
3/4 cup oat flour
1/2 cup date sugar
1/2 cup coconut oil, softened
1/4 cup sliced almonds
To make the filling, cook raspberries, date paste and lemon juice over medium heat until the berries release their juices. Remove from heat and stir in the chia seeds. Return to heat and cook until thickened.
To make the crust, add all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until a dough forms. Reserve 3/4 cup of the crust mix.
Press remaining crust mix into the bottom of a lightly greased 8-by-8-inch baking pan. Top with raspberry filling and then sprinkle with reserved crust and top with the almonds. Bake at 325 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown and filling is bubbling around the edges.
Cool completely before cutting into 12 bars.
Laurie Burgess is a WSU Clark County Extension Master Food Preserver. For additional recipes, food preservation and food safety information visit ext100.wsu.edu/clark/?p=8163. Have questions? Call MFP Helpline: 564-397-5366, or follow our us at www.facebook.com/WSUClarkCo.MFP