Perfect Black Raspberry Muffins ~ the flavor of black raspberries (black caps) is transcendent. If you’re lucky enough to be in possession of a handful, make a batch of these moist high rise muffins. You won’t regret it, trust me.
Got black raspberries? Make muffins!
Could summer baking get any better? Black raspberries represent the pinnacle of summer for me, it’s all downhill after this…but really you can use any summer berry for these epic muffins, and you only need a cup and a half, so go with what you’ve got.
What are black raspberries (aka black caps)?
- Black raspberries are a small dark purple berry from the rose family, and they’re native to North America. They’re an early summer berry, in season in May, June, and July.
- They’re small, and intensely delicious; some say the flavor is something like a combination of a raspberry and a blackberry, but it’s really indescribable. They’ve been call the black truffle of berries!
- Rubus occidentalis was first domesticated in the 1830s, but production has steadily declined in the 20th century, which is such a tragedy. Apparently these delicate berries aren’t profitable because they’re difficult to grow on a large scale, and expensive to harvest.
- Black raspberries are still commercially grown in the Pacific Northwest, but you won’t find them in the produce aisle, these berries are processed into juices and liquors. They’re even used as a natural food coloring because of their brilliant pigment.
- These berries are incredibly healthy, and have higher amounts of cancer fighting antioxidants than most other fruit.
Where can you find black raspberries?
Since they’re not grown for the commercial market, at least right now, you may have to hunt for these purple gems, but take heart, they grow over most of the US and much of Canada!
- farmers markets and roadside stands.
- pick your own farms (you can find pyo farms near you by plugging in your zip code over at pickyourown.org)
- in the wild ~ the berries grow in many parts of the US and Canada. Wild black raspberries are safe to eat, and there aren’t any dangerous look-alike plants, so you can pick and eat with confidence when you spot them (but as always, make sure you can confidently identify any foraged plant before consuming.) Check out my Ultimate Guide to Summer Berry Picking for details.
- grow them yourself! They’re hardy in zones 4-8, and you can buy black raspberry plants online and in your local garden centers.
How to freeze summer berries
Freezing is key to getting the most out of summer’s berry bounty whether you harvest, forage, or just Instacart your stash. And when it comes to delicate summer berries, frozen is just as good as fresh.
- Gently rinse and dry the berries on clean towels.
- Lay them out on a baking sheet, in a single layer.
- Put the baking sheet in the freezer for 30 minutes to an hour until the berries are hard.
- Transfer the hard berries to a heavy duty zip lock freezer bag or container, and put back in the freezer for up to a year.
- Remove them as needed, and use them from frozen for baking, don’t thaw.
Fold frozen berries right into your muffin batter!
Throw frozen berries right into your batter, there’s no need to thaw. One benefit of using frozen berries is that they don’t break up when you fold them into a thick muffin or quick bread batter. (They’ll bake up nice and juicy.) The real benefit here is that you can keep a stash of summer berries in your freezer all year long to bake up into treats like this. You can literally get a taste of summer in the depths of winter.
Of course you can use other berries in this simple muffin recipe, I encourage it.
This type of recipe is ideal for all the typical domesticated berries like raspberries, blueberries, etc, but also for those more unusual summer berries that you might come across depending on where you live…
gooseberries ~ beautifully translucent and tart!
currants ~ tiny jewel toned berries with an acidic kick.
marionberries ~ special variety of blackberries found in Oregon.
dewberries ~ a wild berry related to blackberries, common in the South.
cloudberries ~ golden Scandinavian berries that grow in colder climates
wild blueberries ~ tiny berries with legendary flavor!
boysenberries ~ a hybrid cross between a blackberry and a dewberry.
mulberries ~ large purple berries that grow on the Mulberry tree.
ollalieberries ~ California natives that are a cross between the loganberry and the youngberry.
elderberries ~ tiny tart purple berries that need to be cooked in order to safely consume. Avoid the stems, leaves, and roots, which can be toxic in large quantities.
huckleberries ~ like large blueberries with more seeds, but don’t worry, the seeds just add a bit of crunch.
golden raspberries ~ a mild variety of raspberry, sweet and floral.
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Black Raspberry Muffins
- 1 12 cup muffin tin
- Preheat oven to 375F and butter a muffin tin, or line with muffin tin liners.
- If you are using the streusel topping, make it first. Combine the ingredients with your fingertips until it is crumbly and the butter is completely incorporated. The mixture will be dry. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, sugar, buttermilk, and extract. Get everything well combined.
- Whisk in the baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Then fold in the flour. When the flour is almost all incorporated, fold in the berries.
- Fill your muffin cups quite full, and then sprinkle lightly with streusel mixture. Add sparkling sugar on top of the streusel. Bake in a preheated oven for about 25-27 minutes, or until risen and just turning golden. Different ovens vary greatly, so check these on the early side.
- Cool slightly before turning the muffins out of the pan. Devour warm, with plenty of butter.