Long Reads

Black Raspberries and 11 Berry Good Ways to Use Them

July 26, 2014

Every week we get Down & Dirty, in which we break down our favorite unique seasonal fruits, vegetables, and more. This post was brought to you by our friends at Evolution Fresh, who like fresh, flavorful ingredients as much as we do.

Today: A berry so dark, it’s empty inside.

Black Raspberries

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Black raspberries are inky purple-colored berries (technically, they're aggregate fruits, not true berries) that are often confused with blackberries due to their dark coloring. If you’re not sure whether you’re looking at a black raspberry or a blackberry, black raspberries tend to be a little smaller and less shiny than blackberries, but the telltale sign is that -- like other types of raspberries -- they have a a hollow center (1, below), while blackberries have a white core.

Thanks to that deep, dark coloring, black raspberry juice can be used as a natural colorant, and for many years, the USDA used it in the dye for stamping certified meat. But black raspberries aren’t always black or purple. Remember how recessive genes in red raspberry plants can produce golden raspberries? The same thing can happen with black raspberries, too: Their pale-colored offspring will be yellow or orange in color, but will still taste similar to the dark parent plant.

More: Don’t let your berries turn to mush. Here’s how to keep them fresher, longer

Black Raspberries

Of the three distinct species of plants that we refer to as black raspberries, you can find two of them in the U.S.; one species is native to the Northwest, with the majority of commercial production coming from Oregon, and the other can be found throughout central and eastern states. In your neck of the woods, look for them at your favorite grocery store or farmers market, and keep your eyes peeled for wild black raspberries on your next stroll.

It's easy to be distracted by the beauty of these berries; poet Stephen Burt describes them as: "…tiny black-on-black embossed / like ridges on an alligator hide." But if you’re lucky enough to find a spot to pick them yourself, it's important to remember that they're fragile, so heed Burt’s advice, and keep them "No more than three deep in the Tupperware bucket."

Although they have a different flavor, black raspberries can be used any place you’d use red raspberries -- or any other berries for that matter. Here are 11 ideas to get you started:

What are your favorite ways to use black raspberries? Tell us in the comments!

This post was brought to you by Evolution Fresh. Check out their new pairing guide to find out which foods go best with their juices. 

Photos by Mark Weinberg

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Petit World Citizen
    Petit World Citizen
  • cathy cagle
    cathy cagle
  • Greek
  • Barbara Wachter
    Barbara Wachter
  • Pegeen
I like esoteric facts about vegetables. Author of the IACP Award-nominated cookbook, Cooking with Scraps.


Petit W. August 17, 2014
I put this comment under blackberries but I meant to put it here, under back raspberries: I love black raspberries! I've recently used them to decorate a Summer Cake and a Rustic Galette: http://petitworldcitizen...
cathy C. August 13, 2014
Peach-black raspberry sauce - heavenly over ice cream, in yogurt, on sponge cake. mixed with white wine and sparkling water, by the spoonful.....
Greek August 5, 2014
My all time favorite recipe for blackberries is this AMAZING RAW JAM. It is unbelievably good and unforgettable. I've made 30 batches in one year. It's amazing on everything! http://www.shockinglydelicious.com/raw-blueberry-blackberry-chia-jam/
Barbara W. August 4, 2014
Black raspberry jelly. A bit time consuming when you strain the mashed berries through a jelly bag, but the clear jelly is heavenly on toast or warm biscuits. Yum!
Pegeen July 28, 2014
Definitely use the juice to do some face-painting for those kids running the lemonade stand down the street.
barb July 27, 2014
My favorite is black raspberry custard pie. Amish & German in ancestors.

Winifred R. July 27, 2014
You missed ice cream! Black raspberry ice cream is a favorite for quite a few folks - take that custard and freeze it. I have black raspberries in the freezer after the first batch waiting for more, although nycnomad's jam sound fabulous!
Merrill S. July 27, 2014
It's right there, in the middle of the list! (Black raspberry ice cream is my favorite flavor too.)
Winifred R. July 27, 2014
Sorry I missed it. Some days my eyes slide right past the parts I most want to look for.
nycnomad July 27, 2014
Black raspberries grow wild in the valley where I grew up. They are by far my favorite and make incredible jams, especially when mixed with red raspberries and blackberries. (I'm seen picking them in my profile picture).