Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

THE FARMER'S TABLE ; Raspberry Custard Cakes

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

THE FARMER'S TABLE ; Raspberry Custard Cakes

Article excerpt

I have a very small area of my garden devoted to red and gold raspberries. That tiny plot along a fence line produces gallons of berries, but you will never find my berries at the farmers market. It is rare to find local red raspberries and there is a reason the supply is limited. Raspberries are very fragile and highly perishable. They must be picked ripe. Unlike other fruits, raspberries do not ripen once they have been picked. They have a delicate, hollow core structure that will collapse when other berries are placed on top.

Raspberries begin to deteriorate and turn mushy within 24 hours after they've been picked. Some will even begin to mold. Ideally, raspberries should be picked when it is cool and dry. The fruit should be stored as close to 32 degrees as possible. Under good conditions, the berries will hold for about two days.

Growing raspberries requires skill and can be a risky venture for the farmer. The initial investment is high and there is a lot of labor involved to produce quality fruit.

The yield from my few plants multiplied after I attended a West Virginia State University Extension small-fruit production workshop. I learned when and how to prune and fertilize the plants. With proper care, the plants should continue to produce fruit for years to come.

There is also a lot of labor involved in picking the berries and assuring they get to a market in good shape. Raspberries must be picked every day or every other day. The fruit is not easily picked by hand and cannot be machine harvested, making it an expensive commercial crop to grow. Even at $5 a half-pint, growers are earning every penny and still are not getting rich.

Wild raspberries are native, but red raspberries were introduced to North American by early European settlers. Purple are a cross between red and black. Golden raspberries are a mutation of red and black raspberries. …

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