IF TULAMEEN RASPBERRIES were a person, it would be easy to resent them: They’re bigger, prettier, sweeter, hardier, more perfumed and more objectively successful than any other variety. The obvious upside to this unbeatable berry is that its unreasonably perfect abundance means there are more of them for us to eat.
Reading the data comparisons from their release in the late 1980s is like an online dating profile that’s too good to be true. Praise from the horticultural research notes the berries are “particularly attractive and appealing,” with “high yields of exceptionally large fruit with excellent quality.” Even after losing a few extra canes to cold damage at a chilly Canadian research station, the average individual fruit weighed almost twice the average raspberry. Closer to home, a Charlie’s Produce information sheet notes they’re “the favored berry amongst chefs.” We get it, Tulameen: You’re a shoo-in for every year’s All-Pro Raspberry Team.
For years, I lined up for them at the Alm Hill stand at my neighborhood farmers market, until it occurred to me to grow them myself. Five years later, my ruthlessly contained 8-foot patch produces enough each July that in addition to filling my own jam jars and freezer, I alternate years of supplying my extended family and passing a few quarts along to favorite local bakeries.
Mainly, the effort goes into holding them back. Like mint, raspberries spread via underground runners and would engulf my entire block if I let them. Twice each year, I pull up the shoots spreading where I don’t want them, pot them up and make a “free” pile, which vanishes in a few hours. I also give the canes a substantial trim in February, because left unattended, they’ve extended to a whopping 10 feet long.
A fool is my current favorite way to serve these absurdly sweet berries. Fool is nothing more than berries and whipped cream — it’s like a shortcake, minus the cake. It’s the ideal dessert when the idea of turning on the oven is laughable, but you want something fancier than a simple bowl of fruit. I strongly believe that straining out the seeds is worth the small amount of effort because mousse shouldn’t be crunchy. If you’re feeling ambitious and can handle a few minutes spent near a hot stove, boil those removed seeds for four minutes with 1 cup of water and ¼ cup of sugar. Strain and cool for a cup of intensely red, intensely raspberry-flavored syrup to sweeten lemonade, iced tea, Champagne or seltzer.
You can use fresh or frozen berries for this; if frozen, thaw and retain the juice before puréeing. If not using Tulameen berries, or if you prefer a sweeter dessert, you’ll need up to 3 tablespoons more sugar.
1½ cups (about 6 ounces) raspberries
2 to 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1. With a blender or immersion blender, purée raspberries until smooth. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve to remove seeds. Sweeten to taste with granulated sugar, stirring well to dissolve; you’ll have about ½ cup of smooth purée. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour or up to 3 days.
2. Using an electric mixer, whip cream to stiff peaks. Using a broad spatula, gently fold in the chilled purée with just a few strokes. Don’t overmix. Spoon gently into dessert cups. You can serve immediately, or chill for up to 6 hours before serving. To make a frozen version, freeze for about 1 hour before serving.