The house is quiet and still. I sip my tea. Check my phone. Check the oven. An explosion of scent and steam bursts from its firey cage. Red lava bubbles burst around a sinking crust. I smile. The oven goes off but the crisp stays in. The yard is equally quiet and I debate. Good book, tea, crisp, and quiet all to myself? Or do I call the boys in? I laugh and win this time. Pop the oven open again and scoop some out for me. The quiet is mine for at least a moment longer.
My Grandpa introduced me to raspberries. I mean I knew what they were, but my young life was a navy life. We moved all over. Because my mother is definitely my grandfather’s daughter, we were never without the notion of “wild food”. (To us it was just “food”.) We hiked and walked no matter where we lived and if we ran into a plant my mom knew, we knew. And of course, we had them from the grocery store. But when we moved home and spent more time at Grandma’s, Grandpa always put us to work. I probably complained but never really did mind. Work normally involved doing something in the garden or picking apples or climbing trees tangled in vines of wild grapes. Is that even a chore? Come Labor Day every year, we’d grab a few empty ice cream buckets and head to the raspberry patch. I swear to you this was his world and natural habitat. He stood there looming in tangled bramble like a greedy bear. Paws and pants stained red and more berries popped in the mouth than dropped in the bucket. This was a game I could play.
Grandpa sold that house with his raspberries a few years back. Thankfully, one day that last spring he drove up with one final gift from the old bramble. Now I have a patch of my own.
How to grow your own midwest raspberries
Get your bearings
Everbearing, summer bearing, fall-bearing, single-bearing, bear bearing, haha kidding, made that one up. According to the U of M, summer bearing raspberries are varieties that grow new green stalks called primocanes. The primocanes mature to woody stalks but do not bear fruit until after a dormant rest and the second season of growth. These varieties usually bear fruit in July – August.
Everbearing varieties bear small fruits in lighter quantities on first-year primocanes and heavier yields of large juicy fruits on second-year floricanes. Whatever variety it is that was gifted to me is everbearing and produces small quantities of fruit starting in mid-July then larger yields of fruit from right around Labor Day until a hard frost.
One of the surest ways to get raspberries that do well in your area is to get shoots from an already established patch in your zone. Facebook Marketplace is one of my favorite ways to plant shop! Your bramble will do best under full sun in acidic soil with good drainage. Raspberries are one of the few fruits that do well around black walnut trees.
Can I tell you a secret? I don’t really “care” for my raspberries. Aside from semi-annual pruning and watering when needed they do well on their own. We mow the bramble into rows every spring to keep the shoots in check and make picking easier. I don’t weed. The canes will grow tall and shade out most weeds by the middle of summer and we mow around the edge to get a neat line. We also just mow down the whole thing every other year in October or November when the canes have finished fruiting. My grandfather has a system where he mows down every other row every other year. It works exceedingly well for him but I would need a map. So the whole patch once every other year it is.
Raspberry Crisp Recipe
If you happen to have four cups of fresh raspberries on hand and you didn’t just gobble them up, this raspberry crisp is just the thing for dessert. Or for breakfast. I don’t judge. If you don’t have that many fresh raspberries on hand you can easily substitute frozen. The bake time may be slightly longer and you may find a bit more juice in the bottom of your pan.
- 4 oz flour (½ c.)
- 2 oz oats (½ c.)
- 4 oz brown sugar (½ c.)
- .05 oz salt (¼ tsp.)
- .10 oz cinnamon (½ tsp.)
- .05 oz baking powder (¼ tsp.)
- 3 oz butter (6 Tbs.) cold, cut into cubes
- 12 oz raspberries (4 c.)
- 1 oz butter ( 2 Tbs.)
- .80 oz flour (2 Tbs.)
- 1 oz heavy whipping cream (2 Tbs.)
- 1 oz sugar (¼ scant cup)
- .10 oz almond extract
- .05 oz crushed juniper ( ¼ tsp) OR 1 oz juniper-forward gin
Preheat the oven to 375° F.
To make the topping
In a medium bowl mix all topping ingredients and cut the butter in using your fingers or a pastry blender until it resembles medium crumbs.
To make the filling
Add the raspberries to a 9 inch round baking dish or cast iron pan.
Melt butter in a small saucepan. Mix in the flour.
Add the cream, sugar, almond extract, and juniper or gin. Mix until all ingredients are incorporated.
Mix butter batter into raspberries and sprinkle on topping.
Bake for 30-35 minutes until topping is golden brown and the filling is bubbling around the pan edges.
Looking for more fruit recipes? You may also like Late Summer Fruit Clafoutis