Raspberry Picking In Honor of Nana’s Birthday

By Suzanne Holman • August 12th, 2011

This year it was so wonderful to be able to pick LOTS of raspberries in Washington on July 14, my Nana's birthday. 

She passed away in 1988 and lives on vividly in my many memories of her. This photo was taken at one of her many birthday gatherings. To the right of Nana is her sister Helen and my Aunt Mildred.  Behind her are my mother and sister holding her baby.  In the back row is my cousin Kathy, Suzanne (ME), my cousin Karen, and my brother Bill.

Nana was quite a gardener well into her 80's, and she always had a raspberry patch where I LOVED to pick the berries!  

To this day, I think it is wrong to bake with raspberries.  I just think they need to be eaten fresh…and particularly as you are picking!  I have a feeling that this passion developed when I was encouraged NOT to eat all the berries while picking.  I was supposed to take them to my grandma for her to bake with them or make jam.  

So when I get near raspberry bushes filled with beautiful red berries, I am SO delighted. I picked two different ways this year.  I picked from bushes at the Bed and Breakfast where I was staying.  The berries were fairly scarce and difficult to get to through the barbed branches.  I have to say that I ate those as fast as I picked them!  

When I went to Boxx Farms with my daughters and grandsons, there was a great abundance of berries on the bushes that were easy to reach and fill our boxes or buckets.  Plenty to eat and plenty to take home.   My daughter and a friend of hers decided to make raspberry jam for the first time and used their berries that way. Their jam tasted good and they will continue to enjoy it for months to come. My daughter also enjoyed sharing the jam with family living out of the area.  The berries I picked were definitely reserved for eating, however!  And I froze some so that I'd have some almost fresh ones after the season ended.

Washington state is one of the top producers of raspberries in the world.  I found it interesting to read that Russia is top producer of raspberries in the world.

Red Raspberries originated in Asia Minor in the Caucasus mountains. Around the time of Christ, the fruit was gathered from the wild by the people of Troy and the foothills of Mt. Ida in the Caucasus mountains.

In the 4th century, Palladius-a Roman agriculturist- wrote about the domestication of the red raspberry.  Seeds have been discovered at Roman forts in Britain.  Because of this, it is believed that the Romans probably spread the cultivation of raspberries throughout Europe.  Throughout the middle ages, the British improved and popularized the raspberries.  By 1771, they were exporting the plants to New York.

Here's a chart showing the top 10 countries where raspberries are produced:

Top 10 Countries
(% of world raspberry production)
1. Russia (24%)  6. Ukraine (5%)
2. Serbia & Montenegro (23%) 7. Hungary (4%)
3. USA (13%)  8. Canada (3%)
4. Poland (11%)  9. UK (2%)
5. Germany (7%) 10. France (2%)
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