Many Yoopers wait in eager anticipation for the right time to pick tasty wild berries. Since the blueberry crop in my area was nothing to write home about, I have devoted the last couple of weeks to searching for raspberries. This year’s crop seems to be rather plentiful in many areas. We are however in the last stages of raspberries, so you should go out as soon as possible to share in this impressive wild fruit.
Raspberries are generally one of the first plants and fruits to colonize recently cut over areas. They benefit from the increased sunlight that is allowed to hit the forest floor. Mature tree cover creates a virtual desert down below. The life giving sun rays are filtered out by the leaves. Optimal patches seem to be at their zenith a few years after logging has taken place. Many of times these bushes can be quite thick and thorny. Don’t make the mistake of wearing shorts and sandals out to your favorite destination. You will have nothing but cuts and scratches by the time you come home. To make picking more efficient, devise a container that can loop over your head with one string attached to both sides. The container will hang down from your neck so you can use both hands to pick berries. You will be amazed how much easier and efficient this little device makes harvesting those beautiful red raspberries. When I get home I usually wash the berries off in a strainer, removing any bugs or debris. Wild raspberries unlike store bought fruit, tend to be fragile and can mash easily, however most of the ways I use these berries involve some sort of processing, so perfect form is not important to me. You can also freeze raspberries for later use. This is very helpful as you collect enough fruit to fulfill a recipe’s requirements. These wonderful treats can easily be made into wine, jam or smoothies. You can even use the leaves as an herbal medicine. Many resources call this a “woman tonic” as a tea from this leaf has been purported to help with menstrual issues and pregnancy. Studies have also shown that raspberries may exhibit properties that help with weight loss and diseases such as cancer.
Upper Peninsula raspberries can truly be one of the best fruits that we Yoopers can put in our mouth. They are plentiful most years and can be found easily in our magnificent country side. The enterprising picker should have no problem finding enough to put a few bags in the freezer or a few cans of jam in the pantry. Have fun picking and get out their soon, they won’t be around for much longer!!