Locally grown raspberries in New York markets are unusual at this time of year, so when I saw dozens of pints of raspberries at the Union Square Market in mid-May, I had to ask where they were from. Grown in the tri-state area, they were raised in greenhouses and extremely pricey. But on closer inspection, it was clear why these were very special raspberries indeed. Most raspberries are picked by hand (not machines) by gently pulling the fruit off of their stems (leaving stems on the raspberry bushes), which leaves a hollow, easily bruised fruit. These fancy berries were harvested with a â€œsmall scissorsâ€ (think nose hair clipper size) leaving their stems intact. This is really unusual. It makes for â€œwhole fruitâ€ that is very rarely seen by consumers. My sister used these incredible berries during a pre-wedding tea that she hosted. She served an afternoon tea complete with several sandwiches, scones, sweets and tea and bowls of raspberries for everyone to munch on.
The next day, I plucked the stems off of the left-over berries, yielding the plumpest, freshest berries I have ever eaten and added them to some of the first locally grown strawberries and some â€œimportedâ€ (from California) blueberries. This berry mixture with cream or milk is a perfect way to start the day. With whipped cream, creme fresh or heavy cream or vanilla ice cream they also make an excellent dessert.