Plump and juicy, not too sweet with just a hint of earthiness, fresh goji berries are a treat.
Until yesterday, I’d only experienced dried goji berries, which are chewy and tasty without being too sweet or too sour. Goji berries are a member of the nightshade family and have been known by a wide variety of other names throughout history; boxthorn, wolf-berry, desert thorn. They have a long history in folk medicines around the globe and in recent years have been swept up by pop culture media and whipped into a superfood frenzy. While goji berries do have a number of nutrient dense properties, they are potentially over represented as a miracle cure-all for whatever ails you.
From a culinary perspective, goji berries have a unique taste and make an interesting addition to both sweet and savory meals. I have been known to toss them into soups and stews and also use them in desserts or sweet treats. They make a great snack just straight out of the jar or off the bush and actually apparently in the right regions are pretty easy to cultivate and grow. They make quite a lovely addition to a container herb garden if you live in limited space.
From a health perspective, not wanting to just propagate the media hype I went straight to the peer reviewed journals and medical databases to see what I could discover about the wonderfruit goji berry. They are indeed a wealth of nutritional goodness! That being said, they have very similar properties to the gooseberries, cranberries, lingonberries and just berries in general. All of which are packed with polyphenols, flavonoids, and other chemical compounds that inhibit oxidative stress and systemic inflammation while also increasing immune function and boosting cardiovascular and gastrointestinal health. So, here are my thoughts... goji berries are delicious. If you can locate some fresh ones they are definitely worth a try but not because they are a miracle food, simply because they are palate pleasing and interesting. Definitely, don’t get caught up by the hype that has you spending major amounts of money. If you are looking for foods that will help heal your body, mind and spirit, the goji berry can be a nice addition, along with a wide variety of other real fruits and veggies. Eat real food, not too much and not too little...