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Fresh Goji berries are a vibrant red-orange and are comparable to currants in shape and size. They have a tangy yet sweet flavor like a cross between a cranberry and a cherry. Goji berries have a juicy texture and no noticeable seeds. The berries are delicate and must be picked by hand.
Goji berries are most plentiful between late summer and fall.
The healthful Goji berry rarely grows outside of its native China. Goji berries, botanically known as Lycium barbarum, are considered to be the "most nutritionally dense food on earth” and have one of the highest antioxidant contents of any food in the world. Used in Chinese medicine for centuries, these small teardrop-shaped berries are eaten for longevity and used to treat a variety of ailments in Tibet. In the Himalayas, Goji berries have been nicknamed “the happy berry,” for the sense of wellbeing induced when the berries are consumed.
Goji berries contain the third highest amount of antioxidants of all the foods in the world. Along with the ability to fight free radicals in the body, Goji berries have five-hundred times more vitamin C than oranges, more iron than spinach and more beta-carotene than carrots. Though it is rare in a fruit, Goji berries also contain vitamin E. The Asian berries contain more protein than whole wheat. Goji berries contain a lipid, or fatty acid, called beta-sitosterol which has been shown to decrease the size of overgrown (namely cancerous) cells and decreases the absorption of LDL cholesterol (known as the “bad” cholesterol). Goji berries contain 18 amino acids, the building blocks for protein, including the 8 amino acids that are essential for life.
Use fresh or frozen Goji berries in pancakes, cook down to make syrup, blend into smoothies and fold into muffin or scone batters. Use dried berries in chunky cookies, trail mixes and granola, or make a uniquely flavored Goji berry & chicken soup. Fresh berries can be juiced for maximum health benefits. The juice can be frozen or used for a number of frozen desserts. A tea can be made from the dried berries. Fresh berries have a short shelf life. Most Goji berries are available for purchase in dried or frozen form.
Goji berries are celebrated during festivals in Tibet, Mongolia and NingXia, China, where the berry has grown for centuries. In ancient Eastern Asian medicine, Goji berries are said to correct imbalances in one’s chi such as insomnia, anxiety and low energy.
Goji berries are native to China, though due to changes in soil composition through the Industrial Revolution in its native country, the berries do not grow as well as in other areas in eastern Asia. The Himalayas, Mongolia and Tibet produce most of the world’s Goji berries. Few farmers in the US and New Zealand grow Goji berries; fresh berries can be found in limited quantities at farmers markets. The small brightly-colored berries are also known as ‘Wolfberries’. The English name “Goji” is likely derived from the Mandarin Chinese Gouqi (pronounced goo-chee).
People have spotted Goji Berries using the Specialty Produce app for iPhone and Android.
Produce Spotting allows you to share your produce discoveries with your neighbors and the world! Is your market carrying green dragon apples? Is a chef doing things with shaved fennel that are out of this world? Pinpoint your location annonymously through the Specialty Produce App and let others know about unique flavors that are around them.