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Using raspberries



Published: Wed, July 20, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Regardless of color, this is one fruit whose flavor stays the same.

By BILL DALEY

CHICAGO TRIBUNE

Did you know?

It's easy to think of raspberries as the brazen redheads of the berry family. Vividly colored, loudly flavored, raspberries can literally overwhelm -- especially if pureed, reduced and sweetened into the sort of sauce that likes hanging around too many bad desserts on restaurant menus.

But Miss Raspberry has a virtuous side. The fresh-picked fruit, still warmed by the sun, has a pure intensity of flavor that needs no adulteration.

Raspberries come in three main varieties -- red, golden and black -- according to "The New Food Lover's Companion," but their flavors are not appreciably different.

The season can run from spring to fall depending on the variety grown and the region. In the Chicago area, July is a big month for raspberries, followed by a second crop in September.

Buying tips

Raspberries are available at grocery stores, produce stands and farmers markets.

Freshness is the all-important factor, said Paul Maki of Blue Skies Berry Farm in Brooklyn, Wis. Raspberries should have been just picked; Maki said they can get moldy quickly sitting on a refrigerator shelf.

Look for firm, ripe fruit. Avoid too-soft or bruised berries.

Storing and Preparing

After 11 months of enduring out-of-season or frozen raspberries, why not enjoy these native babies simply as they are: fresh, vibrant, delicious. Eat them as-is in the car on the way home from the market. If the berries are organ3ic and clean, you don't even have to wash them. "The New Food Lover's Companion" suggests storing berries in the refrigerator for up to three days, with the berries arranged in a single layer if possible, and rinsing lightly just before serving. If you can't eat them quickly enough, freeze them in a single layer on a cookie sheet, then put them into a freezer storage bag.

Cooking

A little whipped cream or creme fraiche is about all the "cooking" raspberries require. If you insist on gussying them up, consider substituting raspberries for strawberries and spoon atop fresh-baked shortcake. Garnish with whipped cream. Raspberries can be folded into puddings, custards or foams, pureed into sauces, smoothies or souffles, baked into pies or tarts, or frozen into sorbets and ice creams.




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