As you can see up there, red is not ripe, but it is moments away. I talked with Carrie Richter from Peach Tree Circle Farm in Falmouth for this week's radio show, and she said she ate her first (slightly under ripe) berry on Monday. Black raspberries have turned out to be a kind of social network—something I didn't realize when I took in the extra plants that had spread out from my friend Tracy's yard and under Dotty's fence. But they're unusual enough that growers seem to congregate, and I now have quite a few black raspberry friends.
I met Carrie through a black raspberry friend of a friend. She sells her fruit at the Falmouth Farmers' Market, and I interviewed her last summer when the season was in full swing.
The variety she grows is one called Bristol. Apparently it's the most common cultivar on the East Coast, and I'm pretty sure based on the description that it's the same one we inherited from Tracy. The canes get very tall, and the fruit forms in upright clusters right at the top, which makes picking both easy and hard, depending on how well you prune. It's nice that the fruit is all on top, but you have to make sure you cut the canes down to about waist height each winter, otherwise you'll never reach the berries. Carrie recommends pruning in February or March, and she says it's also important to cut all the dead stuff out.
Otherwise, the most important thing to know about black raspberries is that they make top-notch ice cream. I'm sure you've had commercial black raspberry chocolate chip or purple cow or some other black raspberry-based flavor, but believe me when I say that until you make your own you have not tasted the real thing. I learned this from Andrea, who when I posted about black raspberry & lemon thyme jam informed me that while jam is nice, the higher calling of black raspberries is ice cream. She shared her recipe, which I have since adopted as my own, and today, I'd like to share it with all of you. The black raspberries should be showing up at the markets any day (in years past I've seen them in Falmouth and Orleans), and I want you to be ready.
And to my black raspberry friends, enjoy the season.
ANDREA'S BLACK RASPBERRY ICE CREAM
Andrea's original recipe called for 1 and 1/2 cups sugar. I cut it down to 1 cup, and she said since typing it up she has too. I've used this same recipe for red raspberries and blackberries, and it's absolutely delicious with all kinds of fruit. I haven't yet tried subbing maple syrup or honey for the sugar, but I think I will this year. I'll let you know how it tastes!
1 pint black raspberries
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk
Mix the black raspberries, half of the sugar, and the lemon juice in a bowl. Put the mixture in the fridge and stir every half hour or so for about 2 hours. Crack the eggs into a bowl and whisk for about two minutes, then add the remaining sugar and whisk it in. Pour in the cream, milk, and any juice from the black raspberry mixture. Pour this mixture into the ice cream maker, and add the remaining black raspberries near the end of the freezing time. Chill for several hours before serving.