Raspberries grow very well here in central Scotland. They love all the rain we have! Unlike other species of berries I grow, raspberries seem to ripen without the sunshine, and I am always taken aback to see how quickly they turn from pale pink to rich pinkish red, even during the dullest days of the Summer.
The first plants I bought for the garden when I moved here were 6 raspberry canes. That was Autumn 2004, and here we are some 11 ½ years later, still enjoying their produce. The variety is Glen Ample; I chose this raspberry because the fruits are large and juicy, perfect for jam making. I have been picking the berries for about 3 weeks now, and already, I have packed away over 5kg in the freezer. I rarely have time to make jam in the summer, so I do my preserving from the frozen berries later in the year. Raspberries are one of the most successful frozen fruits for jam making, they lose little of their flavour or setting properties through freezing.
Apart from enjoying the raspberries fresh and in jam, I do like to put some in sweet vinegar for salad dressings, and I also make flavoured tipples for a festive drink. This is one of my favourites.
- 4 small fragrant rose heads
- A large handful of fresh raspberries
- 70cl bottle gluten-free vodka (such as Smirnoff – look for a vodka that is made distilled from corn, potatoes or grapes)
- Carefully rinse and pat dry the rose petals and raspberries, taking care not to bruise or crush them.
- Break up the petals and put them in the bottom of a large sterilised, sealable glass jar along with the raspberries.
- Pour over the vodka, seal and label. Gently swirl the contents every day for 2 weeks.
- After 3 weeks or so, taste the vodka and see whether it is to your taste. If the vodka is flavoured sufficiently, strain completely and rebottle in a clean, sterilised bottle. For more flavour, strain and add fresh petals and/or raspberries, then continue to store as above. Store in a cool, cupboard to preserve the flavour and colour. You’ll notice that after a few days, the colour quickly fades from the petals and berries and begins to colour and flavour the vodka.
- Enjoy the vodka chilled over ice, or use as a base for punches and longer drinks. For a sweeter drink, add 25-50g caster sugar to the mix along with the petals and fruit.