Raspberries, Lovely Raspberries!
The raspberries are here – those long-awaited, sweet and tangy, red and plump drupes of succulence! But of course, like most things in farming, their arrival into ripe-ti-tude was a bit of a saga.
It was just a handful of days ago that I took a walk through our June-bearing variety, hoping to gauge when the raspberries would be ripe and ready for picking. There was ample green fruit, much of it still small, so I figured it might be a week, maybe two. Then, suddenly, summer arrived for two fleeting days last weekend and, like magic, turned green to red! The canes were suddenly sagging under the weight of their soft fruit, bending towards the ground as if commanded by a different gravitational pull. It happened overnight. There was fruit, abundant fruit! I walked down the rows and stuffed ripe berries into my maw, relishing them.
They’re my favorite. It so happens, they are also almost everyone else’s favorite, too. Perhaps because their season is fleeting (a short month from late June to mid-July, then again in September). Perhaps because they are so lusciously perishable. Perhaps because they are so divinely tasty. We seem to love raspberries, collectively and unanimously.
But alas, by Monday afternoon summer had turned its back on us and we were scrambling to pick all of our strawberries a day early in hopes of saving them from the coming rain. There was no chance we could get all the newly-ripened raspberries picked, too, before the storm. They are our slowest, most painstaking crop to harvest, hands down. We would have to cross our fingers for soft, gentle raindrops – the kind that don’t smash ripe razzies into pulp.
It rained a half an inch on Monday night (plenty), leaving the farm soggy by Tuesday morning, a harvest day. We tromped around in our steamy raingear all morning, bunching chard, cutting lettuce, pulling roots. The raspberries were still wet by the time we had to head into the barn to pack the Harvest Baskets, so we left them behind, unpicked, in the field. Wet raspberries, once picked, are prone to growing mold – which would be such a nasty tease for you.
We packed all the totes, cleaned up the barn, and called it a day. Roberto went home. By then, there was blue on the horizon and I decided to take a walk into the field with Cleo. I was feeling tormented by the thought that maybe, just maybe, we could have put some raspberries into your totes after all – if only it had dried out a little sooner. We pushed our way through the raspberry rows – so much fruit! – and happily discovered that much of it had survived the rain. I looked at my watch; it was only a little past five and the sun was breaking through. Cleo was starting to doze. I couldn’t help myself.
I ran for pint baskets and flats and set upon the raspberries, possessed. I knew I could get at least 15 half pints filled – enough for our members who pick up at the farm. The evening light streamed in from under the clouds; the wild turkeys gobble-gobbled their evening gossip session from across the creek; the swallows dipped and dived for bugs; the bees hummed blossom to blossom; Cleo slept. An evening as sweet as the berries that inspired it.
The long and short of it is that raspberries are officially on rotation; I hope they taste sublime.
Free Raspberry U-Pick for Harvest Basket Members!
Because there is not enough time in our week to pick all the raspberries that we know you want, we are trying something new this year. We are offering 4 pounds of free u-pick raspberries for each Harvest Basket! If you share a basket, please split the 4 pounds of u-pick amongst yourselves.
The credit is good at the farm all season. Feel free to use it a little at a time, or all at once. There will likely be raspberries from now until mid-July, and then again in late August and September.
There will be a list of Harvest Basket members at our farmstand, which is now staffed part-time by our friend, Aro, on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Please let her know that you are a Harvest Basket member (tell her your name, or share partner's name) so she can apply your u-pick credit. If she is not present, please honor our honor system and note your harvest on our clipboard.
Of course, our ulterior motive is to get you to come out and enjoy the farm, but it’s also a way for you to get more raspberries into your bellies and freezers, at no extra cost. Enjoy!
In your share this week:
Please note: all of our produce is field-rinsed, not washed. We recommend you wash all of your produce before eating it.
The oo-la-la-iest of all the bunched greens, rainbow chard is like an edible bouquet - an electric array of pink, orange, yellow, white, and red stems topped by dark leaves. When people are puzzled by what to do with chard, I always tell them to use it any way they would use spinach. It cooks up wonderfully: steamed, sautéed, in soup, in lasagna, in spanikopita, in omelettes, quiche, etc.
Chard is the evolutionary grandparent of beets; you’ll notice a similarity in their leaves. The stems are entirely edible and will brighten up any dish with their colorful confetti. It’s super high in vitamins A, E and C, as well as iron and calcium. Don’t let this one end up in your compost!
Storage: keep in the fridge, in a plastic bag; stores up to a week.
Farm Fact of the Week:
During our largest planting week of the year this spring, I was sick with bronchitis. As a result, Roberto singlehandedly transplanted 17,506 seedlings into the field, including onions, shallots, lettuce, and broccoli. You have him to thank when those big Walla Walla Sweet onions show up in your totes this summer!