The journey involved in creating a plump juicy raspberry is long and challenging …
The interesting thing about soft fruit is that no seed is involved. Although each raspberry contains many seeds, each one is potentially a different variety, which means they cannot be used to produce plants for the following year’s crops.
A raspberry’s journey starts 3 years before you eat it, with the harvesting of 20 or so cells from the meristem of a plant held in a laboratory somewhere in Holland. These cells are grown in a glass test tube in a special jelly where they start to form leaves.
After a year in the sun the plants are allowed to shed their leaves and spend the winter outside. The next spring, the bags are split open and the compost containing the mass of roots is cut into slices. These slices are then put onto a bed of coir (coconut fibre, extracted from the husk of a coconut) and covered with another layer of coir. They effectively become a warm, cosy coir sandwich.
The roots wake up as they become warm and produce lots of little buds which grow into small raspberry plants, or ‘tips’ as we call them. These tips are hand-picked and planted into a small pot containing coir and some fertiliser to help them grow.
Soon they grow into small plants and are transplanted into fields where they grow into a 1.4m tall ‘long cane’ over the summer. At the end of the summer they’re packed into large wooden bins – 450 plants to a bin. They’re then put into a very cold fridge for the next 4 months. This convinces the raspberry canes that it has been winter and ensures that they wake up and produce fruit the next year.
The following year they’re taken out of the fridge and put in the fields where they will produce their fruit. The plant wakes up and grows the lateral shoots that will then produce the flowers that become the delicious berries we all love to eat.
Over time, the berries will turn red and fill with sugar until they are ready to be picked. Each berry is then gently picked by hand and placed in punnets, ready to be picked up by you in store.
Wonderfully fresh and ready to be eaten with a blob of ice cream.