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Harvesting Raspberry Plants

Harvest time celebrates the results of your hard work. Are you ready to enjoy your delicious homegrown raspberries? Here are a couple of things to consider as you reap the fruits of your labor: the best time to pick the fruit, and how to store your harvest. How you eat it is up to you!

NOTE: This is part 11 in a series of 11 articles. For a complete background on how to grow raspberry plants, we recommend starting from the beginning.

When to Harvest

For the best flavor and texture, harvest your raspberries when it is dry and cool – when it’s not raining, and ideally after the heat of the midday sun has passed. The exact timing will vary by variety and location, but it’s usually around summer and into early fall in many areas. Each ripe fruit’s coloring should be a deep shade of red, black, purple, or gold, also depending on the variety. You can expect a few raspberries the year you plant if your variety is a primocane-bearing raspberry plant, but, for most raspberry plants, you can expect to harvest starting in the summer of the second year after planting.

Average yield per plant is 1 to 2 quarts of raspberries.

To harvest, grasp the berry (don’t squeeze) and give a gentle tug. If they release from the stem easily and the core remains on the plant, the fruit is ripe. If you have many ripe berries all at once, avoid placing harvested fruit all in one container, otherwise you may risk dealing with squashed berries. Carefully remove any visible leaf, soil, or other debris, but do not wash raspberries until you are ready to use them. For short-term storage (refrigeration), washing raspberries makes them more prone to spoiling.

Storage

Keep fresh-picked raspberries out of the light, and refrigerate immediately after harvest. It is best to harvest ripe raspberries every 2 or 3 days to avoid over-ripe and rotting fruit. Raspberries do not keep long after picking – usually about 2 or 3 days in the refrigerator at most.

If you are unable to utilize your raspberry harvest right away, you can gently rinse them in cold water and allow them to dry. Then place the fruit (in a single layer) on parchment or wax paper on a baking sheet and freeze until firm. Place frozen raspberries into labeled and dated freezer bags to store and enjoy any time. Frozen raspberries will keep in proper storage for about 10 to 12 months without losing quality.

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