3 Herb Mamas

Seasonal Living: RED RASPBERRY

Red Raspberry
(Rubus idaeus, R. spp.)

raspberries_1586035c

It may seem like an odd time of the year to be writing about Raspberries but since this is my very favorite fruit of the wonderful fruits of the Earth I find some reason to think about, use, and appreciate Red Raspberry in every season. If you grow Raspberry canes in your garden, and I certainly hope you do, then February is the time to begin fertilizing for the year. I am a little behind schedule this year because we keep having snow and ice cover on the ground. It may actually be the first week of March before I can begin side-dressing my canes but I am hoping for a window of opportunity this weekend. Here is a recipe from an old Amish “receipt book” for Fruit Cane Fertilizer:

1 gallon well-sifted wood ash
1 gallon white lime
1 handful sulphur powder
1 handful epsom salts
Mix well and put one large handful around each plant February, March, April, and again in fall.
Make sure to sift out any chunks of wood from your ashes or they will lock up nitrogen as they break down and prevent your plants from benefiting from the nutrient.

Another reason I am thinking of Red Raspberries right now is because this is the time of year when I take stock of what is in the freezer and pantry. I like to make plans to use up anything that has been overlooked and it helps me make plans for the coming gardening season by letting me know what I need to plant more of and what we had in excess. I was delighted to find that we still had about 20 quarts of Red Raspberries in our freezer. Probably half of that will be made into Raspberry Jam to use, along with other flavors, as favors at our oldest daughter’s upcoming wedding this summer. I also made Raspberry Vinegar by simply filling a half gallon canning jar halfway full with frozen berries, then filling it to the top with raw Apple Cider Vinegar. Labeled and capped, this will be ready in plenty of time for making Raspberry Vinaigrette Dressing for our spring salads. I can hardly wait!

Red Raspberry Vinegar

I also made Red Raspberry Butter by combing 1/2 cup Raspberry puree with 1 cup softened butter and a generous tablespoon of local Honey. I whipped this well using a stick blender and stored it in the refrigerator to serve to top pancakes, waffles, toast, biscuits, or scone. Heavenly!

Raspberry Butter

I will also simply add thawed Raspberries to my morning homemade yogurt for a nutritious and delicious breakfast. Raspberries are rich in flavonoids, namely quercetin (along with others). Flavonoids are plant pigments with a plant metabolic function that benefits us, when we consume them, by signaling cell pathways and antioxidant activity. Quercetin is one of a group of flavonoids that reduces allergic responses and boosts immunity. Other good food sources of quercetin include red wine, onions, green tea, apples, buckwheat,and most berries. Other good herb sources include St. John’s Wort, Ginkgo, and Elder.

Raspberries and Yogurt Raspberry Yogurt

Several years ago I began eating 1 cup of berries, usually Red Raspberries or Blueberries, every day. A recent eye exam revealed that my vision had improved slightly and that the partially detached retina had healed and re-attached, although this only very rarely happens according to my eye doctor. This is only anecdotal information and hardly conclusive, but I think I will continue eating my daily cup of berries just the same. Red Raspberry is a “medicine” that does not need “a spoonful of sugar” to go down. Yummm…

Red Raspberry (or any of the other bramble species such as Black Raspberry, Wineberry, or Blackberry) leaves make a delicious tea that has an astringent toning effect on female reproductive organs and has a long tradition of use during late pregnancy and after giving birth. It is also effective for treating diarrhea and dysentery. Raspberry leaves are a rich source of minerals, especially calcium, iron, phosphorous, and potassium, as well as vitamins B, C, and E. I include this important herb in my own Herban Iron & Minerals syrup as well as in herbal vinegars that I use to boost nutrition in my salad dressings and marinades.

~Leenie

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