The Raspberries Are Ready


My raspberry bushes made me so happy I could cry last week.

For the first time since we bought those first woody canes four or five years ago, they produced more fruit than we knew what to do with. Bowl after bowl, day after day, we picked big, bright berries. And the next day, there was still more.

Yes, we’ve had strawberry hauls like that. And zucchini and tomatoes. And many years we’ve grown so many cucumbers I couldn’t bear the sight of another.

But never fragile, fragrant raspberries. This felt like a miracle. All the raspberries in the world, at our fingertips.

Most, we simply ate — atop granola, swirled into muffins, tossed on a salad, straight from the picking bowl. But as the bushes kept producing more, I began searching for recipes to help me use them.

My favorite quickly became a simple raspberry sauce, inspired by the inimitable Martha Stewart. Some, I found, wanted you to strain the fruity bits out, but this one only stirs together a touch of sugar and a squeeze of lemon. It’s almost a runny jam and it’s so good on everything: cheesecake, ice cream, breakfast yogurt, waffles, pancakes. But the best is to make a refreshing pitcher of lemonade and mix in a few tablespoons of the raspberry sauce. Voila! The fruitiest, tastiest pink lemonade you’ve ever tried.

So why am I telling you about our great raspberry harvest? I’m hoping to inspire. Maybe you don’t want to work a big garden or don’t have the space to grow everything you eat. But I bet there’s one sunny corner in your yard or that spot for big planters on the deck. There you could to tend to something that you love.

For many people it’s tomatoes. For you it could be snow peas or blackberries or cilantro. Maybe there’s something you want to eat that you have trouble finding at the market or the store. Like raspberries. I never see overflowing tables of these plump jewels at the farmer markets. Whatever it is for you, grow that.

Because there’s just nothing better than having too much of something you love — right in your own backyard.

A few tips: Start small and don’t be afraid to experiment. We first bought bareroot canes and dug them into the sunniest spot we could find — on the side of the house by the air conditioner. They grew well there, but were too hard to pick. I felt like a contortionist reaching and bending to shimmy the berries off their stems.

So we moved our bushes, every last one. They stand now along the fence in the backyard, where they are thriving. They have the space they need and we can more easily access them.

So, think about it. If you could plant anything in the world in your little patch of land, what would it be?

And, while you’re thinking…. What’s your favorite way to eat raspberries? I might need a little inspiration!