If you didn’t already know, my favorite berries are raspberries, so of course I am so excited to talk all things raspberries today! I try to go out as much as I can to our bushberry fields in Watsonville to take photos and pick berries. My field photos not only serve as crop updates for our trade partners, but for all of you as well!
If you haven’t yet been to a raspberry field, I’ll paint a picture of what it’s like here at our Watsonville growing region. I typically arrive early in the morning with our quality control manager, Manuel, and we walk the ‘rows’ together – berries are planted in long rows, which is why we use that reference. I always have my boots on incase the ground is muddy from any moisture or irrigation. It’s usually too cold first thing in the morning for our ‘bee friends’ to come out, but around noon they are buzzing everywhere and working oh so hard to pollinate our crops.
My first few visits to the fields I was so nervous about the bees – I remember being too afraid to get out of Manuel’s truck! I always wore long sleeves and would run away as soon as I was approached by them. Now, I look at them as my comrades – simply at work, minding their own business and always friendly. One of my favorite aspects of visiting the bushberry fields now is watching and observing the bees and their pollination process – it’s truly fascinating and there is such a respect between our field personnel and these precious little worker bees that help our crop grow!
After I have taken a few photos of the plants, flowers, incoming fruit and ripened red fruit I start to pick some for breakfast (my favorite part!) There really is no better way to enjoy berries than right off the plant. Manuel has usually beaten me to this part and packs me an entire clamshell of raspberries as I’m taking my photos so I always have berries for breakfast and lunch.
When picking a raspberry, it’s important to look for a fully red, ripe berry. You want to avoid light-colored raspberries, dark red and overripe raspberries, and any shape deformities.
Once I have spotted a fully-red, large, firm raspberry I pull from the top of the berry still attached to the stem with my thumb and pointer finger, and gently pull away. The raspberry should slide off the plant very easily when pressure and gentle pulling is applied to the plant. A good raspberry won’t feel like it’s being squished in your hand during this process, and it should always be juicy and sweet! After usually two handfuls-worth of my raspberry breakfast we take off back to the office, and I edit my crop photos while I snack on more. I’m always looking forward to these days in the fields.
Even if you are not in the fields picking raspberries fresh off the plant, when looking for raspberries in-stores these guidelines still apply. Be sure to inspect the clamshell and ensure all berries have full-color, feel firm, and have no leakage or ’squished’ berries hiding in the clamshell.
Are you a raspberry-lover like me? I’d love to hear all the ways you like to enjoy raspberries in the comments below!