Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Raspberries and freeze pops August 3, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 8:59 AM
Just-picked domestic raspberries

Just-picked domestic raspberries

“Why are raspberry freeze pops blue?” he asks.

“Maybe so you don’t confuse them with cherry,” I answer, not all that sure that I’ve given the correct response.

We are discussing this while washing and sorting through raspberries that Randy has picked earlier. He’s gathered an ice cream bucketful from a co-worker’s patch in Northfield, where he’d driven directly after work.

It is 8:00 now on a Friday evening and we have just finished a homemade pepperoni pizza and bottles of Brau Brothers Brewing Co. Strawberry Wheat beer. Before and after our meal I have snitched dozens of raspberries. And as I consume another handful, I wonder if the brewers from Lucan have ever considered crafting raspberry ale.

“Keep eating like that and we won’t have any left,” Randy laughs.

“You can eat them too,” I zing back.

So we work, side by side. He places the berries in a colander, sprays them with water, then dumps the berries onto layers of paper towels placed atop a brown paper grocery bag. I have worried already about red juice staining the counter.

I pat the berries, ever so gently, with another layer of paper towels.

And then we sort. Firm reddish berries placed in a single layer upon cookie sheets for freezing. Mushy, overripe, nearly purple berries into a bowl for eating.

“Raspberries are so delicate,” I say, understanding now why these sell for $3.50 to $4 a pint. We chat about the labor intensity of harvesting this fruit and then value our bucketful at $32.

We wash. Pat dry. Sort. Berry by berry.

Occasionally I plop a berry or three into my mouth and savor the flavor that tastes nothing, nothing at all, like a blue freeze pop.

Wild black raspberries in our backyard

Wild black raspberries in our backyard