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Category: Food



Introduction and description

The raspberry is the edible fruit of a multitude of plant species in the genus Rubus of the rose family, most of which are in the subgenus Idaeobatus; the name also applies to these plants themselves. 

They are available worldwide and are extensively cultivated. And they are delicious.

Furthermore they have, like most berries, healing properties.



The Raspberry is a bushy perennial plant growing to about 4 to 5 feet high with  woody stems.  

It is now found as numerous cultivars.  The most well known cultivar is of course the red raspberry, but there are very attractive purple raspberries [also found in the wild in the USA];  a black raspberry, Rubus occidentalis; a ‘Blue’ raspberry; and some very attractive pale-yellow natural or horticultural variants.  The fruits from such plants are called ‘golden raspberries’ or ‘yellow’ raspberries.

Red raspberries have also been crossed with various species in other subgenera of the genus Rubus, blackberries for example, resulting in a number of hybrids, the loganberry, boysenberry and tayberry.

Technically a raspberry consists of ‘drupelets’ in other words smaller berries.  When removed from the bush it has a hollow core.

The flowers are pretty but relatively insignificant, however, they are a major nectar source for honeybees and other pollinators.


Some of the 'heritage' raspberries are truly delicious and sweet

Raspberries need a cold winter to form a bud, as such they tend to do well in places like Northern Europe and Scandinavia, the North of England, Scotland, Oregon or Washington, Russia, northern China and so on.  Their leaves fall in autumn leaving the bare canes and in this state they are very hardy, surviving some quite severe conditions.

During the growing season, raspberries need ample sun and water for optimal development. They thrive in well-drained soil with a pH between 6 and 7 with ample organic matter to assist in retaining water.  The best taste and level of sweetness is derived from a good rich soil, with plenty of well rotted manure or compost.  If the soil is too dry, the berries become woody and hard and most unpleasant, in other words they never fatten out and become plump and sweet.  On the other hand, the soil must be well drained otherwise they get root rot.  Acid soils produce acid berries.

showing the flowers and crinkly leaves, raspberries have thorns - beware!

Although commercial growers tend to take cuttings to propagate the plant, us ordinary gardeners use the suckers.  The plant spreads by suckers, which tend to appear all over the surrounding garden.  These need to be dug up and nurtured so that they can be used to replace any failing or old unproductive plants. 

Raspberries do not fruit on new canes, as such you have to prune them very carefully.  When you prune them in winter remove old or damaged canes, leaving the new canes to produce next year’s fruit.  Pruning is needed every year, as you don't want the bush to get matted and tangled.  In the first place this makes picking more difficult, in the second place it weakens the plant having so much bushy leafy growth to support, and in the third place a weakened overcrowded plant tends to attract fungal and other diseases.

It is worth mentioning that commercial growers sometimes grow double or "everbearing" plants, which also bear some fruit on first-year canes in the late summer and as well as the summer crop on second-year canes.   But no amateur gardener would grow these as the plant in its weakened state often needs spraying with very unpleasant fungicides to keep disease at bay.  Best to go organic and be patient.

the holes in the netting must allow pollinators through

Birds and squirrels love raspberries and tend to strip the bushes, as such it is usually necessary to have them in a cage or net tunnel. 

Escaped raspberries frequently appear as garden weeds, spread by seeds found in bird droppings.

Raspberries are traditionally planted in the winter as dormant canes, they need plenty of room between each plant so that they do not become prey to fungal diseases.  They can be planted in a pot as long as the pot is watered regularly.  In very windy conditions they may need staking or tying.


The fruit is harvested when it comes off the receptacle easily and has turned a deep color (red, black, purple, or golden yellow, depending on the species and cultivar).

Botrytis cinerea, or grey mould, is a common fungal infection of raspberries under wet conditions, poor soil, overcrowding, and inadequate or sporadic watering that has weakened the plant.

Raspberry plants should not be planted where potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, or bulbs have previously been grown. These crops are hosts for the disease Verticillium wilt, a fungus that can stay in the soil for many years and can infest the raspberry crop.

Medicinal uses and nutrients

Jamie Oliver's tomato carpacchio with burrata
raspberries and marjoram

Both the fruit itself and the leaves of raspberry have been used medicinally.  The berry you just eat and enjoy.  Raspberry leaves can be used fresh or dried in herbal teas, and are used in herbal and traditional medicine, the observations below provide some examples and Dr Duke’s analysis show the medicinal  activities supported by the leaves.

Raspberries have a reputation for being good for constipation, and this reputation is deserved, as they have a high proportion of dietary fibre, it is among the highest known in whole foods, up to 20% fibre per total weight.  In terms of daily allowances, they can supply about 32% daily value of a person's need for dietary fibre [with the pips].

Like all berries, raspberries have extraordinary medicinal value.  Dr Duke’s phytochemical database analysis lists well over 705 medicinal activities available from the fruit and leaves. Given the sheer number, it is impossible to provide any sort of analysis that does justice to the plant in this page.  We suggest you look at the observation below showing the activities, that is a snapshot from Dr Duke's database, and also look at the entry on his site for an up-to-date list.  We have also provided a number of specific observations from PubMed showing the research on the health giving properties.

Many of these activities derive from the vitamins and minerals the raspberry contains.  Raspberries are, for example, a rich source of vitamin C, with about 32 mg per serving of 1 cup (about 54% daily value), manganese (about 41% daily value),  B vitamins 1–3, folic acid, magnesium, copper, iron and so on.

USDA Nutrients Database - Full Report (All Nutrients):  09302, Raspberries, raw

Food Group: Fruits and Fruit Juices Scientific Name:  Rubus spp.



Value per 100g

Water 1 2 3 4 5



Protein 1 2 3 4



Total lipid (fat) 1 2 3 4



Fiber, total dietary 1 2 3 4 5



Sugars, total 2 3



Sucrose 2 3



Glucose (dextrose) 2 3



Fructose 2 3



Lactose 2 3



Maltose 2 3



Galactose 2 3






Calcium, Ca 1 2 3 4



Iron, Fe 1 2 3 4



Magnesium, Mg 1 2 3 4



Phosphorus, P 1 2 3 4



Potassium, K 1 2 3 4



Sodium, Na 1 3 4



Zinc, Zn 1 2 3 4



Copper, Cu 1 2 3 4



Manganese, Mn 1 2 3 4



Selenium, Se 3






Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid 1 2 3 4



Thiamin 1 2 3 4



Riboflavin 1 2 3 4



Niacin 1 2 3 4



Pantothenic acid 1 2 3 4



Vitamin B-6 1 2 3 4



Folate, total 1 2 3 4



Choline, total 2



Betaine 2



Vitamin B-12



Vitamin A, RAE






Carotene, beta 2 3 4 6 7



Carotene, alpha 2 3 6 7



Cryptoxanthin, beta 2 3 6 7



Vitamin A, IU



Lycopene 2 3



Lutein + zeaxanthin 2 3



Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) 2 3



Tocopherol, beta 2 3



Tocopherol, gamma 2 3



Tocopherol, delta 2 3



Vitamin D (D2 + D3)



Vitamin D



Vitamin K (phylloquinone) 2 3






Fatty acids, total saturated



Fatty acids, total monounsaturated



Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated



Fatty acids, total trans




Raspberry Cheesecake with Grand Marnier


Mini Raspberry Eggnog & Gingerbread Cheesecakes

The most obvious way to enjoy raspberries is simply to have them raw, on their own or with ice cream [home made] or cream and a little sugar. 

They are also wonderful in pavlovas - meringue base with cream piled with fruit.  They can be used in fresh fruit salads – blueberries, blackberries and raspberries, for example, flans, cakes and cheesecakes.  They go extraordinarily well with chocolate.  The photos provide some examples.  But raspberries are actually more versatile than this and can be used in savoury dishes too, so we have provided some savoury recipes as ‘food for thought’!

Raspberry vinegar

Raspberry vinegar became quite a food fashion in the 1980s but is now rarely seen, despite the fact it is delicious and very versatile.  It  goes extremely well with liver – chicken livers, duck livers and veal liver.  The livers are first fried in butter until done but still pinkish.  They are then removed from the pan and left to rest, raspberry vinegar is then used to deglaze the pan off the heat  - the livers are then placed on individual plates and the dressing poured over them.  Toasted pine nuts are then scattered over the dish.  These go well with a plain rocket salad and creamy polenta.

450g of raspberries
450ml of white wine or cider vinegar
80g of sugar

Place raspberries in a stainless steel or glass bowl and crush lightly with a fork or potato masher. Add the vinegar, stir then cover and set aside for at least 2 days. Longer if possible.  Give the fruit an occasional stir. Drain the fruit through muslin and leave for 2 or 3 hours – longer if you have time. Pour the liquid into a stainless steel saucepan and add the sugar. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, scraping off any foam. Leave to cool, pour into sterilised bottles and store in a cool dark place. It will last for a year.



Grilled Chicken, Feta & Raspberry Salad.

This is very simple, and very tasty, but relies on the raspberry vinegar recipe above.  The amount of the ingredients used in the dressing is best determine by taste rather than fixed quantities

1 large chicken breast seasoned with salt and pepper

25g feta cheese, cubed

15g fresh raspberries

15g pecan nuts, halved

1 small bag of baby leaf salad


Walnut oil

Sweet basil leaves, torn into small pieces

Raspberry vinegar

Grill the chicken breast & cut into bite size pieces

Toss salad leaves with raspberries, feta, pecan nuts & chicken pieces

Mix dressing ingredients together and pour over salad



Rocket, raspberry and mozzarella salad

250g buffalo mozzarella (2 balls)

100g (3½oz) raspberries

2 handfuls of rocket leaves

A little good olive oil

A little balsamic or raspberry vinegar

Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Tear the mozzarella into pieces and arrange it on a large, flat plate.

Scatter the raspberries and rocket leaves over the top.

Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar. Season well.


 Warm Brie with Honeyed Raspberries and Almonds

Spiced butternut and couscous salad with raspberry vinaigrette

More complex, but extremely tasty.

1 small butternut squash about 450g • 1lb peeled deseeded and cut into large dice

3 tbsp rose harissa

1 tsp sunflower oil

1 small red onion peeled and finely chopped

3 garlic cloves peeled and crushed

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp ground coriander

1 x 400g can chickpeas drained

160g • 5½oz couscous

320ml • 11fl oz home-made or good-quality vegetable stock hot

1 tbsp finely chopped mint

1 tbsp finely chopped coriander


50g • 2oz raspberries

1 tbsp cider vinegar

2 tsp water

1 tsp clear honey

1 tbsp olive oil


½ cucumber

Pomegranate seeds

200g • 7oz cherry tomatoes halved

2 large handfuls baby spinach leaves

small handful pine nuts


Preheat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Tip the squash into a large bowl, add the harissa and toss to coat. Roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes until soft.


While the squash is roasting, prepare the couscous. Heat the groundnut oil in a frying pan, add the onion and cook for 3-4 minutes until soft but not coloured. Add the garlic, cumin and ground coriander and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add the chickpeas and couscous and pour over the hot stock. Cover and leave to soak. After 10 minutes, fork through the couscous and stir in the finely chopped mint and coriander.


Place the raspberries, vinegar, and water, in a food processor or blender and blitz.  Sieve to remove seeds and return liquid to the blender.  Add honey and olive oil and blitz further to make a dressing. Pour the dressing into a small serving jug.


Halve the cucumber lengthways, scoop out the seeds and slice into crescents.  In a large bowl, toss the tomatoes, spinach and cucumber together.


Arrange the spinach salad on a large serving platter. Top with the couscous, scatter over the squash and sprinkle with the pomegranate kernels and pine nuts. Serve with the dressing on the side.


Warm duck and raspberry salad

References and further reading

Green beans and raspberry hazelnut toss

The following cross reference the numbers above in the nutrients list

1 Nutrient Data Laboratory, ARS, USDA Nutrient Analysis of Specialty Fruit Marketed in the United States , 1987  Beltsville MD  
2 Nutrient Data Laboratory, ARS, USDA National Food and Nutrient Analysis Program Wave 4e , 2001  Beltsville MD  
3 Nutrient Data Laboratory, ARS, USDA National Food and Nutrient Analysis Program Wave 5L , 2001  Beltsville MD  
4 Produce Marketing Association (PMA) Nutrient Content of Raspberries , 1990    
5 J Marlett, N Vollendorf Dietary fiber content and composition of different forms of fruits , 1994 Food Chemistry 51   pp.39-44
6 J L Bureau, R J Bushway HPLC determination of carotenoids in fruits and vegetables in the United States , 1986 J Food Sci 52   pp.128-130
7 A Homnava, W Rogers, R R Eitenmiller Provitamin A activity of specialty fruit marketed in the United States. , 1990 J. Food Composition and Analysis 3   pp.119-133
8 de Pascual-Teresa, S., Santos-Buelga, C., and Rivas-Gonzalo, J.C. Quantitative analysis of flavan-3-ols in Spanish foodstuffs and beverages , 2000 J. Agric. Food Chem. 48   pp.5331-5337
9 Gu, L., Kelm, M.A., Hammerstone, J.F., Beecher, G., Holden, J., Haytowitz, D., Gebhardt, S., and Prior, R.L. Concentrations of proanthocyanidins in common foods and estimations of normal consumption , 2004 J. Nutr. 134   pp.613-617
10 Hellström, Törrönen, A.R., and Matilla, P.H. Proanthocyanidins in common food products of plant origin , 2009 J. Agric. Food Chem. 57   pp.7899-7906
11 Määttä-Riihinen, K. R., Kamal-Eldin, A., and Torronen, A.R. Identification and classification of phenolic compounds in berries of Fragaria and Rubus species (family Rosaceae) , 2004 J. Agric. Food Chem. 52   pp.6178-6187
12 Ancos, B. de, Gonzalez, E., and Cano, M. P. Differentiation of raspberry varieties according to anthocyanin composition. , 1999 Z. Lebensm Unters Forsch A 208   pp.33-38
13 Harnly, J. M., Doherty, R., Beecher, G. R., Holden, J. M., Haytowitz, D. B., and Bhagwat, S., and Gebhardt S. Flavonoid content of U.S. fruits, vegetables, and nuts, 2006 J. Agric. Food Chem. 54   pp.9966-9977
14 Hosseinian, F. S. and Beta, T. Saskatoon and wild blueberries have higher anthocyanin contents than other Manitoba berries. , 2007 J. Agric. Food Chem. 55   pp.10832-10838
15 Määttä, K. R., Kamal-Eldin, A., and Torronen, A.R. Identification and classification of phenolic compounds in berries of Fragaria and Rubus species (family Rosaceae), 2004 J. Agric. Food Chem. 52   pp.6178-6187
16 Mullen, W., Stewart, A.J., Lean, M.E.J., Gardner, P., Duthie, G.G., and Crozier, A. Effect of freezing and storage on the phenolics, ellagitannins, flavonoids, and antioxidant capacity of red raspberries. , 2002 J. Agric. Food Chem. 50   pp.5197-5201
17 Wu, X., Beecher, G. R., Holden, J. M., Haytowitz, D. B., Gebhardt, S. E., and Prior, R. L. Concentrations of anthocyanins in common foods in the United States and estimation of normal consumption. , 2006 J. Agric. Food Chem. 54   pp.4069-4075
18 Arts, I. C. W., van de Putte, B., and Hollman, P. C. H. Catechin content of foods commonly consumed in the Netherlands. 1. Fruits, vegetables, staple foods and processed foods. , 2000 J. Agric. Food Chem. 48   pp.1746-1751
19 de Pascual-Teresa, S., Santos-Buelga, C., & Rivas-Gonzalo, J.C. Quantitative analysis of flavan-3-ols in Spanish foodstuffs and beverages. , 2000 J. Agric. Food Chem. 48   pp.5331-5337
20 Tsanova-Savova, S., Ribarova, F., and Gerova, M. (+)-Catechin and (-)-Epicatechin in Bulgarian fruits. , 2005 J. Food Comp. Anal. 18   pp.691-698
21 Lugasi, A. and Hovari, J. Flavonoid aglycons in foods of plant origin II. Fresh and dried fruits. , 2002 Acta Alimentaria 31 1   pp.63-71
22 Häkkinen, S. H., Kärenlampi, S. O., Heinonen, I. M., Mykkänen, H. M., and Törrönen, A. R. Content of flavonols quercetin, myricetin, and kaempferol in edible berries., 1999 J. Agric. Food Chem. 47   pp.2274-2279
23 Zafrilla, P., Ferreres, F., and Tomas-Barberan, F.A. Effect of processing and storage on the antioxidant ellagic acid derivatives and flavonoids of red raspberry (Rubus idaeus) jams , 2001 J. Agric. Food Chem 49 8   pp.365-3655
24 Antonen, M. J. and Karjalainen, R. O. Environmental and genetic variation of phenolic compounds in red raspberry. , 2005 J. Food Comp. Anal. 18   pp.759-769
25 Häkkinen, S. H., Kärenlampi, S. O., Mykkänen, H. M., and Törrönen, A. R. Influence of domestic processing and storage on flavonol contents in berries. , 2000 J. Agric. Food Chem. 48   pp.2960-2965
26 Jakobek L., Šeruga, M., Novak, I., and Medvidovi?-Kosanovi?, M. Flavonols, phenolic acids and antioxidant activity of some red fruits. , 2007 Deutsche Lebensmittel-Rundschau 103   pp.369-378
27 Justesen, U., Knuthsen, P., and Leth, T. Quantitative analysis of flavonols, flavones, and flavonones in fruits, vegetables and beverages by high-performance liquid chromatography with photo-diode array and mass spectrometric detection. , 1998 J. Chromatogr. A 799   pp.101-110
28 Liggins, J., Bluck, L. J. C., Runswick, S., Atkinson, C., Coward, W. A., Bingham, S. A. Daidzein and genistein content of fruits and nuts. , 2000 J. Nutr. Biochem. 11   pp.326-331
29 Mazur, W. M., Uehara, M., Wähälä, K., and Adlercreutz, H. Phyto-oestrogen content of berries, and plasma concentrations and urinary excretion of enterolactone after a single strawberry-meal in human subjects. , 2000 Brit. J. Nutr. 83   pp.381-387
30 Thompson, L. U., Boucher, B. A., Liu, Z., Cotterchio, M., and Kreiger, N. Phytoestrogen content of foods consumed in Canada, including isoflavones, lignans, and coumestan. , 2006 Nutr. Cancer 54   pp.184-201

smoked duck, pickled raspberry, black garlic and rocket salad

Related observations