Our 2023 EFN seed catalogue is now online! 100+ new varieties. Over 40 different growers and foragers from across the country. A million thanks to all who make this possible, especially our amazing seed-house crew!
EFN INTRODUCTION. This is something really special.
In many parts of North America, black raspberries (or "black caps") are a quintessential taste of summer. People who know of a productive wild patch have been known to keep the location a closely guarded secret, and will stand in it picking berries until their fingers are stained purple. A few cultivars (like 'Bristol' and 'Cumberland') are in limited cultivation, with the fruit typically processed soon after harvesting, often as jam or jelly or a beloved ice cream or yogurt flavor (particularly popular in our Mid-Atlantic region). The fruit don't keep very long, so the berries are rarely found whole at markets.
In just a few locations (one other being a small part of Ohio), random mutation has led to plants producing berries that are not black at all, but a beautiful golden-pink or golden-orange. We were very lucky to have found one such patch in Pittsgrove, New Jersey, near the old Alliance Synagogue. EFN co-founder Nate Kleinman noticed something different about these plants at the same time as he noticed the berries: unlike other black raspberry stems, which are purple, these are just green. But the berries are unmistakably unique at first glance. And the flavor is a revelation: sweet and tart like other black raspberries, but with a distinct hint of wintergreen — yes, the same wintergreen you might find in toothpaste. It is beguilingly different, but quite addictive. Strangely, while the fruit show no hint of purple coloring, upon cooking they take on a pale purple color (and they also lose their wintergreen flavor). We've enjoyed them very much in jam, jelly, pies, and kombucha. The dried leaves also make a delicious, nutritious, and medicinal tea.
From Nate: "When I first found these golden black raspberries at Alliance, my family and I were still in mourning for my beloved aunt, Margaret Kleinman Rolnick, who had died just a couple weeks earlier. Marg was an avid gardener who inspired and nurtured my love of plants from an early age. Her garden in Highland Park, NJ, was an explosion of color all year, and she delighted in showing me the little secrets tucked into every corner. She introduced me to plants that are now a major part of my life, from mayapples to wisteria. Marg was also a student of Jewish mysticism and proud of our Jewish heritage, so I know she would be honored that I chose to name this new variety of golden black raspberry — found on land in New Jersey farmed by Jews since 1882 — after her. I'm sure she would also tell me that it was no coincidence that I found it when I did."
GROWING TIPS: We have yet to try growing these from seed, so we don't know if they will "grow true," but it is likely that at least some of the offspring of these seeds — or at least the second generation offspring — will produce golden berries as well. Because we haven't germination tested these, we are offering them as botanical samples. Seeds are likely to benefit from 30-60 days cold stratification, followed by planting in a moist medium and being kept moist until sprouting. They might take a few months to sprout, and likely will not fruit until their second year. Please keep us posted if you have success with them, as we're very excited to see how they do!