Raspberries grow wild all over the northern hemisphere and in great abundance. Learn more about Scandinavian raspberry.
Clearings and woods, where the soil is deep and well nourished, are sure to host prickly areas of wild raspberries, which taste incomparably better than domesticated ones. And you can pick as many as you want if you take the time for a fruitful picnic in the woods. A handful of raspberries is a wonderful thing simply eaten from a juice-stained hand, but it can also go a long way to add flavor to cakes and puddings. Furthermore, raspberries are full to the brim with antioxidants and, of course, vitamin C.
Related: Scandinavian Berries
Appearance and taste
Wild raspberries are small but richly flavored. This does not mean that home-grown raspberries are necessarily inferior, depending on the cultivar, they can be intoxicatingly sweet, juicy and bursting with taste. But beware of modern cultivars with over-large berries; you will get lots of fruit, but your jam will be nondescriptly berry-ish and without the tart, distinct raspberry taste that you want.
How it grows
Raspberries grow in canes, usually bearing fruit the year after initial planting. Many Scandinavians grow many cultivars in their gardens, including an autumn-fruiting yellow variety which actually bears fruit twice, both in the summer and again from September to November – that is, if you ignore the garden ‘wisdom’ of cutting back the canes after fruiting. They have a flavor of all their own as the color indicates, of peach Melba.
Buying and storing
If you are buying raspberries, they must be completely fresh, with absolutely no mould on them. Commercially grown raspberries are more resilient than home-grown ones, but generally raspberries do not keep for long and the taste deteriorate very quickly, particularly if the fruit is warm or wet. If you keep raspberries for more than a few hours, you must put them in the fridge, but this will take away their taste, and you must return them to room temperature before eating them. Any surplus must be heavily dusted with sugar to prevent mould, which relieves them from the strain of the fridge, and are heaven on your morning muesli or yoghurt.
Raspberries are well suited to freezing as they keep their taste well, but of course lose any firmness.
Related: Scandinavian Rhubarb
Raspberries are much loved by Scandinavians, and may be our best-loved berry for jam. The culinary uses for raspberries have no end, but it’s not very often that you have the chance to tire of raspberries eaten raw with cream or ice cream, or made into rødgrød, fools or jam. However, these cakes are well worth a try. The sponge and jam in the multilayer raspberry cake melt slowly into a fusion of rich marzipan taste, and it is to us what Christmas cakes are to the British. The shortcut squares are quickly to make and perfect for afternoon tea.
While strawberry jam is exciting enough to be used in desserts and cakes too, as its flavor is much more pronounced.
Raspberry shortcrust squares
These delicious and homely-looking pastry squares are quick and easy to make, and are perfect for afternoon tea. Children love them and are quite capable of baking them themselves.
400g raspberry jam for the pastry
200g salted butter, chilled
100g icing sugar
300g plain flour
2 egg yolks
A little rice flour, for rolling icing sugar, for dusting.
Chop the ingredients for the pastry on the worktop with a large knife. When it resembles grated cheese, assemble the dough using the warmth of your hands. Do not knead it. Divide the pastry in half and form into two flat rounds. Chill for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 200℃/gas mark 6. Using a little rice flour, roll over the pastry directly on to the parchment paper to form two identical 3mm-thick squares. Place on a baking sheet and bake until cooked through and lightly golden.
While the pastry is still hot, spread the jam on to one of the squares. Leave the other to cool. Then place it on top – the easiest way to do this is upside down, as you can pull off the paper once the pastry is in place. Gently press together.
The price you pay for this delicious, very crispy and flaky dough is that it will crack in unexpected places when you cut the cakes into squares, triangles or whatever shape you prefer. It will keep for several days, if wrapped in clingfilm and stored in a cool place, though not the fridge as it gives cakes a nasty consistency and steals the taste. Dust with icing sugar before eating.
Scandinavian Raspberry, written by Tor Kjolberg
Feature image (on top): Rubus idaeus / Wikipedia