Raspberry picking: Where to go, how to pick, what to do with your berries
Editor's note: Updated June 2019
Raspberries are friendly to all heights of pickers. In fact, a multi-height team is a plus. The raspberry canes do have prickles, but they are small and don't cause problems unless someone falls into them. Best of all, unlike strawberries, you don't have to bend over to pick them!
If you are like my family, many of the berries will be sampled and never make it into the box. This, of course, is the best way to learn what the primo berries look like.
Where Do You Find the Raspberries?
For the most complete list of U-Pick farms around the Puget Sound area, check out the Puget Sound Fresh Guide and search by crop and location.
Note: Be sure to call before you go to be sure the berries are ready for picking.
Some of these farms take cash only so best to bring some along. Also, pack sunscreen and plenty of water.
How do you pick out a good raspberry?
Ripe raspberries are a little darker red than you think. Think raspberry red, not raspberry pink. Pick only ripe raspberries; they won't get any riper once picked.
Ready raspberries want to be picked. Pull on them and they almost fall into your hand, leaving a white core behind. If you bend the twig and the berry stays put, it's not ready.
Not too squishy. If they are already too soft to eat, leave them there.
Refrigerate or freeze them if you have no plans for them before bedtime.
Didn't Eat All the Berries You Brought Home?
If, despite your best efforts, there are still a few leftover raspberries, here are a few things to do:
• Freeze ‘em. Raspberries are almost as easy to freeze as blueberries. Rinse them and drain them well, jiggling to drain the centers. Freeze them in a single layer on a flat pan so that they freeze whole and don't squish. When solid, seal in a zip-top bag.
•Popsicles! All you will need is paper cups, popsicle sticks, vanilla yogurt, orange juice and raspberries. The kids can do this for themselves.
For each cup of vanilla yogurt, stir in ½ cup orange juice, and as many raspberries as will fit.
Spoon into the paper cups and pop in a stick. Place in the freezer until solid. Perfect for, "Mom, I'm hungry and it's too hot!" Peel off the paper cups and enjoy.
• Consider a food mill. If you toss in rinsed raspberries you get an instant purée and none of those seeds. Or send them through the blender and squish through a sieve. Add to yogurt or bubbly water for summer coolness.
• Make jam. Check out our recipe for Raspberry Orange-Flower Jelly.
Helping parents, kids and new cooks navigate and enjoy fresh, local and sometimes unusual produce prodded Greta Hardin into writing Cooking Your Local Produce. She's a science teacher and enthusiastic cook.