How to Pick Raspberries That Are Perfectly Ripe

Raspberries are the delicate princesses of berries. If you learn how to pick ripe raspberries, you'll be rewarded with taste bud-tingling ruby desserts, smoothies and more!

My grandma had a raspberry patch that produced loads of the fragrant, garnet berries. As kids, we loved placing them on our fingertips and thumbs before nibbling them off. Grandma’s raspberry pie was a masterpiece of sweet and tart flavors, topped with billows of lightly sweetened whipped cream. Today, making raspberry pie is an annual family tradition that brings back sweet memories.

How to Pick Raspberries

Whether for a recipe or enjoyed out of hand, you’ll want to look for the best berries. No matter where you get your berries—from a U-pick farm, farmers market or grocery store—look for vibrantly colored, firm raspberries with plump drupelets (the little balls that make up a raspberry). Pass up berries that are soft, dull looking, dark, shriveled or squashed. If you’re at a U-pick farm or picking wild raspberries, it helps to have berry tools like a basket or colander to hold your fruit.

How to Handle This Delicate Fruit

Raspberries need lots of pampering. Here are some ways to keep your berries at their best:

  1. At the grocery store, make sure the carton of raspberries is set gently on top of the other groceries in the bag, so they’re not squashed.
  2. Do not wash these berries when you get them home. This is one of the most common berry mistakes! They easily absorb water, which could cause them to mold.
  3. Keep them in the same container you bought them in or place them in any breathable container, handling them gently so they aren’t bruised.
  4. Store the berries no longer than 2-3 days in the refrigerator.
  5. When you’re ready to use them, wash the berries in a colander and then dry them on a cookie sheet or tray with paper towels to absorb the water.

How to Freeze Raspberries

Raspberries freeze really well (for up to a year) and they’re delicious in smoothies. You can follow the same guidelines for freezing any type of fresh fruit. Just rinse the berries briefly in a colander, shake gently to remove the water, then roll the berries onto a paper towel-lined half sheet and let them drain. Make sure you don’t overcrowd the berries, so each berry has its own “breathing space.” Then pop the entire tray into the freezer.

Once the berries are frozen, in, say, 4-6 hours, tumble them into a freezer bag, seal, label and return to the freezer. It’s that simple!

Love other berries as well? Then, find out how to pick blackberries that are perfectly ripe.

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Leslie Forsberg
Leslie Forsberg is a freelance writer living in Seattle who specializes in food, travel and lifestyles. A former magazine editor, Leslie has contributed to publications ranging from AAA magazines to Country magazine, Sunset to inflight magazines, for 20 years. She enjoys writing about Pacific Northwest foods, Scandinavian foods, baking and the intersection of farmers and consumers. Leslie is a 3-time Society of Professional Journalists award winner for Best Travel Writing. She is the author of two books: Michelin Green Guide: Pacific Northwest and Wanderlust & Lipstick: Traveling with Kids.