Whichever color raspberry you're looking for, try to buy organic. Conventionally grown raspberries are routinely treated with up to 40 chemicals, and 58 percent of raspberries recently tested by the FDA and the USDA were found to contain unsafe pesticide levels. This puts them on the notorious "dirty dozen" list of the most pesticide-contaminated foods. And by the way, this holds true even if you wash them.
At the market or farm stand, look for berries that are firm, plump, aromatic, and brightly colored. Avoid stained or leaking containers; either likely means the berries are overripe. Fresh raspberries are fragile and highly perishable, so eat them right away if you can (wash them in cold water just before using). You can extend their freshness for a day or two by arranging them in a single layer in a loosely covered, moistureproof container in the fridge.
Raspberries are delicious eaten by themselves, in baked goods or salads, or in entrée sauces and glazes. They combine well with other fruits and work great in jams. You can also blend raspberries with oil and vinegar to make a simple fruity raspberry vinaigrette. To freeze raspberries, place them in a single layer on a cookie tray and place them in the freezer. Once they're frozen, transfer them to a sealable plastic bag.
Health benefits? Raspberries are full of fiber, manganese, and vitamin C. As for antioxidant power, raspberries rank in the top four antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, alongside blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries. Raspberries also contain high levels of ellagic acid, which has been found to inhibit breast, colon, and esophageal cancer cells in lab tests, though it hasn't been tested in clinical trials. According to a recent study on lab rats published in Cancer Research, eating black raspberries before and after exposure to chemicals that cause throat cancer reduced tumor development by half. (Note: Experts believe black raspberries may contain the highest amount of cancer-preventing agents of any berry.) Finally, the anthocyanins in raspberries can help protect you against diabetes by boosting insulin production and lowering blood sugar levels.
To take full advantage of raspberry season, try some of these dishes from the Rodale Recipe Finder.
#1: Raspberry Muffins. Start your day with these outrageous raspberry muffins, or a healthy Raspberry Yogurt Parfait.
#2: Raspberry Bread Pudding. This cool, refreshing bread pudding is perfect for summertime brunches.
#3: Chicken with Raspberry Topping. Fresh raspberries add tartness and pizzazz to simple chicken entrées such as this one. For another tasty option, try raspberry-pistachio crusted chicken breasts.
#4: Rich Rice Pudding with Raspberry Sauce. These creamy desserts taste even better topped with raspberry sauces. Or simply top frozen yogurt with berry sauce.
#5: Raspberry Linzer Tart. Raspberries and chocolate? Definitely a match made in heaven. As with this raspberry almond tart, or irresistible Raspberry Swirl Brownies.