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A Raspberry Reminiscence as Told by Kate Lebo

As a baker, I’m interested in finding the freshest fruit and the best way to bake with it. Freshness, the way I pursue it, is not the amount of time that’s elapsed since the berry was separated from its vine. It’s a measure of rawness, beauty, and flavor—if the fruit has all three, it’s fresh.

As a writer, I want to know what appetite or association raspberries spark and fulfill. When I think about fruit in general, I always think about cycles of time--how fields are prepared, shoots are nurtured and then teased into something we can eat. How we harvest that fruit then watch as the plant dies back. I think about literal raspberry plants, which should be replanted every two or three years to get the best flavor and quality.

My attachment to raspberries comes from the backyard bramble my family planted and then left to run wild. It bore fruit in late summer unless it was a cold summer, which it often was in southwest Washington State. In fall, those leafless curved canes and their delicate thorns looked, to me, like the bare rails of a retired rollercoaster.

For me, the word “raspberry” conjures up its flavor—the sweet-tart, just-contained juice of each tiny perfectly formed drupelet. I think of jam, the kind that arrived in a clear plastic jar at greasy spoon diners. A jewel-red jam that shouldn’t have been as good as it was considering the rest of the fare, yet could rescue any kind of toast, especially on sourdough with a little butter. I think of fresh raspberries in a shallow bowl of cream, a dessert that just needs a spoon to complete it. I think of raspberry pie, of course, because I am a pie-baker, and how raspberries pair with just about any fruit—peaches, rhubarb, blackberries, and pears. When it comes to chocolate, raspberries are the cherry’s only true rival.

In my time working with Driscoll’s raspberries, I’ve seen how they raise a raspberry with the attention and care it needs. I learned that Driscoll’s nurtures thousands of cultivars down to a few ideal breeds. Finally, I learned you can grow a raspberry that fruits twice, once in the spring, and once in fall, providing a second-harvest just in time for Thanksgiving. Now, I don’t have to go to the jam pot to get fresh raspberry flavor in November, nor do I have to resign myself to the typical cold-weather desserts made from the contents of aluminum cans and pantry stores. The seasons change like they always have, while raspberries make flavor and freshness available year-round. Because of Driscoll’s, it’s always berry season.

Taste the difference for yourself. Try my Raspberry Crumble Pie topped with Bourbon Whipped Cream made from Driscoll's berries.

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