9.01.2011

The Local Food Report: everbearing raspberries

Some raspberry bushes give fruit twice. Did you know that? I had a hunch, but I wasn't sure.


The thing is, growing up, we had wild raspberry bushes in our yard, and they only fruited once. The fruit sort of trickled in, a little bit sporadic, but there was definitely only one harvest, sometime in July. Then a few years ago, we put in a raspberry patch here. A friend gave us the bushes, dug up from ramblers that had grown into her yard under her neighbor's fence, and we tucked them into a sandy hill with a good helping of loam. We weren't sure what to expect, really, so when we got a seemingly erratic but plentiful harvest of goldens, black raspberries, and reds, we were pleased. They seemed to come all summer long: from June into July, with a little break in August, and then again in September. We didn't pay much attention to the pattern; we were just happy to pick.

But the other day, when I saw Jane Ditzel had red berries at the farmers' market in Orleans, it was like someone flipped on a light switch. She was telling me that this is her fall crop of berries, from her Polana variety plants, and that both of her varieties—the other one is Heritage—bear fruit twice: once in July, and again starting in September, into late October or even early November. They're everbearing varieties, she explained. This means that unlike regular raspberries, which only bear fruit on two-year old canes in mid-summer, they also bear fruit on new growth—brand new first year canes—starting in the fall until frost hits.

This explained why we'd been getting berries all season at our house: we have black raspberries, which only fruit once in June and early July, and then we got the mid-summer fruiting from our Heritage and golden plants, and then things went quiet for a little while, only to ramp back up in mid-September, just in time for Alex's birthday. I was looking through some old film, and I found this picture of Stevie the cat in the raspberry patch helping me pick. The roll was dated September 22, 2009, which made me realize we've been getting two harvests all along—I just never realized it.


At any rate, if you're interested in planting a patch, there's some very good information about hardy New England varieties, including everbearing plants, over here. And if you're more interested in eating raspberries, specifically raspberry pie, all you need to do is scroll down. It's nice to know the season's here, again.

RASPBERRY PIE

There is something incredibly decadent about raspberry pie, I think. So many precious berries! This recipe is adapted from a recipe for blueberry pie in The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters.

dough for one 9-inch bottom and top crust
6 cups raspberries
3/4 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Roll out the dough for the bottom crust and drape it across a 9-inch pie plate.

In a large bowl, stir together the raspberries, sugar, tapioca, lemon zest and juice, and salt. Let the mixture stand 10 minutes, then pour it into the prepared pie crust. Dot the berries with the butter.

Roll out the top crust and drape it over top. Trim any excess dough so that both top and bottom crusts have a 1-inch over hang. Then roll the edges of the top and bottom crust in together toward the rim of the pie plate. Pinch the crusts together and crimp all around. Cut steam vents in the top of the crust.

Bake the pie at 400 for 15 minutes, then turn the heat down to 350 and bake until the crust is golden and the juice is thick and bubbles through the steam vents, about 45 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream.

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All text, photographs, and other original material copyright 2008-2010 by Elspeth Hay unless otherwise noted.