Goji Berries - What are goji berries?

Culinary Uses and Nutritive Health Benefits

Raw Food Dried Goji Berries
Goji berries photo by Getty Images / Eyecrave

What are Goji Berries?

Goji berries, also known as wolfberries, are a reddish-orange berry with a slightly sweet and usually a bit sour in flavor. One variety of goji berries has a flavor almost like a tomato while another leans more toward the tanginess side of the berry family - closer to a raspberry. Goji berries have long been used as a central ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine, and the vast majority of goji berries sol in the United States are still imported from China.

 

The goji berries found frequently in health food stores are generally the more berry-flavored variety although you wouldn't really call them sweet. Frequently marketed as a superfood, goji berries are almost always sold dried (rather than fresh) can usually be found in the supplement section or occasionally in the bulk foods section at natural foods stores and organic co-ops, or, check out your local Asian grocery for a better price on goji berries. Some larger Asian groceries will also stock frozen goji berries in the freezer section. 

Raw varieties (which are labeled raw or sold on raw food websites) are carefully collected and dried at low temperatures specifically for those on a raw vegan food diet. Since they must be dried in order to preserve them for shipping and improve their shelf-life, the texture and consistency leave a bit to be desired from a chef's perspective.

How to Enjoy Goji Berries

Goji berries are easy to enjoy in smoothies and raw vegan elixirs.

If you don't have a powerful blender you may want to keep them soaked in a little water or apple juice to soften them before blending. Goji berry powder is also available and can be stirred directly into juices, herbal teas, or even just water. They make a great topping for desserts, could easily be added to raw vegan cupcakes or granola, and blend up well in raw puddings and ice cremes when well soaked.

The dried berries make a great addition to trail mixes (their flavor makes a great compliment to savory and crunchy granolas), add wonderful zest to a salad, and can often be used in place of raisins in recipes of all kinds.

Nutritional and Medicinal Value of Goji Berries

The nutritive and possibly medicinal benefits of goji berries are many and legendary. Goji berries are very high in antioxidants and so they are a great anti-inflammatory amongst other wonderful qualitites. Research on their medicinal properties is being carried out around the globe. In Traditional Chinese Medicine goji is used as an immune tonic and blood tonic. Children of all ages will be happy to hear that goji berries are reknowned for their anti-aging properites as well.

Goji berry recipes to try: