Raspberries will appear at farmers market this weekPublished 9:39am Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Column: Notes from the Garden, by Katie Godfrey
I know summer is officially upon us when I start noticing the light blush of raspberries peeking through their dark leaves. Growing up, we had a thriving raspberry patch in our backyard. My sister and I would eye the brambles each day in July until they were ripe enough to eat, knowing full well we were in direct competition with our fruit-loving German shepherd. This particular dog wouldn’t eat just any berry — she would wait patiently until the tender fruit was red with sugar, and then delicately pluck it off the branch with her front teeth. Unfortunately, she was less careful with the placement of her feet, and during the 14 years she was alive, our raspberry patch became so badly trampled that only a few lonely canes survived.
The raspberries never came back, but I’ve discovered many other ways to satiate my annual craving for the plump fruit. Most recently I’ve found delicious berries at the Albert Lea Farmers Market. Several vendors have boasted raspberries over the past week, but they won’t be in season for much longer. They will take a short hiatus during the month of August, and make another grand appearance in September.
Raspberries come in red, yellow, purple and even black if you’re lucky enough to have black cap raspberries growing wild on your land. These smaller berries are very sweet and perfect for making jam and cobblers. Pick up the Minnesota Grown Directory at the market’s EBT table to find U-Pick berry locations in our region. When picking raspberries, wait to harvest until they easily slip off the stem when given a gentle tug. I like to pick a couple of pints to eat, and a few more to freeze for future use in smoothies and pies. Growing raspberries of your own is fairly easy, too. If you have a friend who is willing to part with some canes, take a shovel and slice through the roots, then transplant them into your garden. They especially like leaf mulch, which imitates the way wild berries grow in the woods.
Today, the Albert Lea Farmers Market will be taking advantage of the seasonal berries by offering ice cream sundaes with raspberry or strawberry sauce for $1.50 each. Vendor tables are also piled high with spring onions, salad greens, radishes, kohlrabi, honey, maple syrup, broccoli, green beans, bedding plants, homemade soaps, crafts and more. Don’t forget, the market accepts EBT cards and credit/debit cards, and Blue Cross/Blue Shield even matches up to $5 in Market Bucks when EBT cards are used. The Albert Lea Farmers Market is open from 4 to 6 p.m. Wednesdays and from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturdays at the North Broadway parking lot.
Katie Godfrey is the community nutrition steward for the Albert Lea Farmers Market.