Thursday, October 4, 2012

All About Goji Berry


Origin of Goji Berry
Goji berry’s native region extends from Southeast Europe to Southwest Asia. The most educated guess as to the fruit’s precise origin is China’s Ningxia region.

Himalayan civilizations have relied on goji berries as foodstuff, and they have been cultivated and naturalized along the India-China-Tibet borders for thousands of years. Despite growing on Indian soils in these remote regions, India’s cookbooks and medical records do not reference goji berries nearly as extensively as China and Russia.


Author Shiu-Ying Hu explains in the book, “Food Plants of China,” that some of the country’s earliest poems, books, herbals and songs reference goji berries. Indeed, the fruits have been used in Chinese and Russian herbalist medicine for centuries, and refinement of the genus’s two most well known species is owed entirely to China. Even today, Ningxia has the best goji berry farming techniques and technology.

Availability of Goji Berry

Goji berries have made waves in the import and export markets of India, but they’re not cultivated commercially on the country’s soils. However, there’s ample potential, given the ease of growing them: Several edible species in the Lycium thrive in a range of conditions—they grow alongside desert shrubs and snow-covered pine. Indeed, goji berries love hot summers and mildly cool nights; conditions found in many parts of India. Once established, the fruits are drought tolerant and the plants withstand frost with ease. Furthermore, goji berries begin fruiting within a year of planting.

Where to find Goji Berry in India

Fresh berries are nearly impossible to procure in India, but it’s possible to find dried goji berries in niche specialty markets catering to expats and health food junkies. One may also find goji berries in the online portal, PlaceofOrigin.com. Anecdotally, the dried berries tend to be more expensive in India than in the US. Though shipping costs are lower in India due to its geographical closeness to China, less competition and lower demand keep prices high.



Checking for Ripeness in Goji Berry
Fresh goji berries are ripe when they can be shaken off the bush and collected from the ground. It’s best not to pluck them from the shrub, else they’ll oxidize and become sour and bitter.

Dried goji berries are best when their color is bright red and the fruits are soft and pliable. Though goji berries are naturally tougher than raisins, they shouldn’t be desiccated and tough to chew. Also inspect the package for any dust or dirt settled on the berries, as this indicates poor packaging. Check the package for the manufacturing date as well, given India’s notoriety for selling expired products.


Also, research the company beforehand. Chinese goji berries might be packed with pesticides and toxic residues. Though goji berries may provide ample health benefits, they could be mitigated by overuse of herbicides and pesticides. 

Taste of Goji Berries
The taste of fresh goji berries is sweet with a pungent, bitter flavor on account of their seeds. Others compare the fruit as a cross between an orange and tomato, with its metallic, peppery bite and rose aftertaste. Goji berries are not juicy, and the fruits have a paste-like interior inside of their thick skin.


Dried goji berries have a hint of sour and the sweetness of carrot, which is to say, not too sweet but noticeable nonetheless. They also taste like sun-dried tomatoes; unsurprising, given that both fruits come from the nightshade family.



Nutritional Value of Goji Berries
The nutritional information of goji berries per 100g of edible (dried) fruit is as follows:

78.6 kcal
17.1g Carbs (13% RDI)
2.1g Fiber (9% RDI)
1.1g Fat (2% RDI)
.7g Protein (2% RDI)
6,071.4iu Vitamin A (260% RDI)
8.6mg Vitamin C (11% RDI)
71.4mg Calcium (7% RDI)

1.3mg Iron (7% RDI)

Health Benefits of Goji Berries
Goji berries have a number of health benefits that have been exploited by societies for thousands of years. Traditionally, the Chinese have used goji berries as a tonic for the kidneys, liver, and eyes.

Studies today affirm these benefits, and several others:
--A 2013 study published in the International Journal of Biological Macromolecules shows that certain polysaccharides in goji berries inhibit the proliferation of human liver cancer cells.
--A 2013 study conducted at the University of Hong Kong found that goji berries reduce oxidative stress and may be beneficial in managing glaucoma. This finding contributes to other assertions made by the study’s authors that the fruit’s carotenoids and zeaxanthins reduce the risk of macular degeneration and protects vision.
--A 2013 review published in the International Journal of Biological Macromolecules summarized studies related to goji berry’s biological activities. The researchers concluded the fruit to be an antioxidant, immunomodulation, antitumor, neuroprotective, radioprotection, anti-diabetes, hepatoprotective, anti-osteoporosis, and anti-fatigue.
--A 2012 study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology found that goji berry polysaccharides protected mice liver from oxidative stress and necroinflammation.
--According to a 2012 study published in Inflammopharmacology, goji berries have an apoptotic and antiproliferative effect on cancer cell lines. They also enhance the effect of other cancer therapies, with no known adverse side effects. This finding confirms another 1994 study published in the Chinese Journal of Oncology that the antioxidants in goji berries might fight cancer and boost the efficacy of cancer treatments in tandem with other regimens.
--As per an article published by the Univeristy of Texas El Paso, the goji berry’s two compounds, beta cysterol, and superoxide dismutase, protect the body from free radical damage, block cholesterol absorption, decrease the risk of heart disease, and lower inflammation.
--A 2010 study published in the Chinese Journal of Integrated Traditional and Western Medicine found that goji berries enhanced learning and memory capabilities when tested in manganese-poisoned mice.
--A 2012 study published out of the University of Hong Kong’s Eye Institute found that goji berry polysaccharides exhibited strong neuroprotective benefits.
--A 2011 study published by the University of Hong Kong found that goji berries have promise in combatting depression based on its neurological effects on rat brains.


Note: Though goji berries are generally safe for consumption, they do have blood-thinning properties. If on blood thinning medication, consult a doctor before consuming large quantities of the fruit.

How to Open/Cut:
Goji berries are typically consumed like blueberries, raisins and raspberries: whole, and popped in the mouth. The small, hardly discernible seeds require no removal.


Some choose to soak dried goji berries overnight to plump them and to restore their moisture. Soaking is advisable if using the berries for soups, syrups, smoothies, and in any blended concoction. Removing the seeds for cultivation is also easier if the fruits are soaked beforehand. Consume all soaked goji berries within a day: They spoil rapidly.

Soaked goji berries

Storing Goji Berries
Fresh goji berries are highly perishable once plucked. Place the fruits in a clamshell container lined with a paper towel and store in the refrigerator. They will keep for up to a week.

Keep dried goji berries in a sealed container in the refrigerator or the freezer. The chilled air prolongs their shelf life considerably, and the fruits will keep up to three years. When ready for consumption, remove the fruits from cool storage and keep at room temperature for an hour—the flavors will be more robust.

Goji berry juice should be kept in the refrigerator, especially after opening. Most juices have a lifespan of roughly 30 days.

Goji Berry Recipe Ideas and Uses:
--Make superfood trail mix by adding goji berries with raw cacao nibs, almonds, walnuts and raisins.
--To make goji granola bars, add the dried fruit with oats, nut butter, soaked dates, and raisins. Or, use another combination is ground chenna powder, dates, almonds, coconut powder, cardamom, and goji berries. Make chocolate goji bars with the addition of coco powder.
--Add dried fruits to morning cereals and porridge.
--Add soaked berries to smoothies and juices. The fruit goes well with bananas, coconut, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, carrots, orange, tomatoes and leafy greens. Goji berries do not pair well with melon, peaches, apples, pineapple, papaya, or mango.
--Add goji berries to salads, particularly ones that include quinoa or couscous, tomatoes, carrots, raisins and mustard dressing.
--Use goji berries in truffles and decadent chocolates. Or, add coconut dessert recipes like macaroons.
--Sprinkle goji berries atop raw vegan pies
--Use goji berry as a raisin substitute and add to cookie and sweet bread batters. The fruit works well in citrusy breads and cakes.

--Make a goji berry soup: Soak the dried fruits overnight. In a saucepan, sauté onion, garlic, chili, tomatoes and the goji berries. Add other warm spices like cumin, turmeric, pepper and cinnamon. Pour vegetable stock over the base, and simmer. Blend the concoction and serve with a dollop of cashew cream if desired.

Goji trail mix from
Greenthyme.blogspot

Flavor Complements:
Fruits: Banana, coconut, blueberry, mulberry, sea buckthorn, chitra, lemon, orange, lime, date, fig, cherry, jamberry, strawberry, cacao, tomato

Vegetables: Carrot, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, pumpkin, yam, turnip, kale, spinach, lamb’s quarters, lentil, chickpea

Herbs, spices, and oil: Almonds, walnuts, pecan, pistachio, nut butters, coconut flakes, oats, chia, chocolate, cocoa, dates, dried figs, raisin, honey, vanilla, maple syrup, molasses, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, turmeric, carrot juice, cranberry juice, sea buckthorn juice, orange juice, ginger, chai, black tea, rosemary, oregano, pine nut, black pepper, chili

Note: Though goji berries generally have sweet pairings, their hints of tomato make them suited for earthier spices like rosemary and oregano.

Scientific Name:
Lycium barbarum

Other Names:
Box thorn
Wolfberry
Tibetan goji

Murali (Indian)

Random Facts:
One book I skimmed called “The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth” explained that some scientists think goji berries are not the same thing as wolfberries (the fruit that is packaged and distributed to us under the name of goji berries). Goji berries, one scientist explains, grow near Tibet and are cultivated organically, whereas wolfberries are loaded with pesticide residue and are grown throughout China.




10 comments:

  1. I ordered Goji Berries on Teamaya Naturals in India, and they are amazing berries packed with tons of nutrients. A truly "Superfood" as mentioned on the website.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hello,
    Thanks for information.
    i buy Goji Berry india at nutribucket, Goji berries are one of the most nutritionally-rich superfruits, providing you with a healthy boost of vitamins, trace minerals, antioxidants and anti-aging benefits.
    Organic Products

    ReplyDelete
  3. Awesome post! Goji berries are miraculous because this small bright red fruit may contain all the nutrients our body needs to keep it healthy and happy. Goji berries has the necessary polysaccharides to regulate blood sugar levels. It also has betaine to support normal liver function and cardiovascular health.
    Goji berry juice

    ReplyDelete
  4. Appreciated Information! As i never heard so many benefits of goji berry India before.

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  5. I recently purchased a big bag of goji berry, when I visited Thailand, It has got a slight bitter after taste. Maybe from China, so I am apprehensive about consuming it...The bag is unmarked.

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    Replies
    1. That's perfectly normal! There's definitely a slightly bitter, metallic aftertaste to these things.

      Delete
  6. Goji berries dried fruit, plants and seeds are also available at: The Jammu and Kashmir Medicinal Plants Introduction Centre at Pulwama
    More http://jkmpic.blogspot.in

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  7. I must thank you, Catherine Reddy, for sharing literally everything about Goji Berries. I live in India only and as a matter of fact I never found any difficulty in procuring Goji Berry Juice. I place online orders and they ship the product with a weak. I'm being very fortunate in health matters, ain't I? :)

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  8. Dear all,
    Jammu and Kashmiri soil is all set to produce China's Goji berry fruit , as Valley. Jammu and Kashmir Medicinal Plants Introduction Centre JKMPIC would be planting 10,000 plants of Goji berry from the ensuing plantation season. “Now, after four years we may have another fruit – Goji berry - available in the market. We will plant 10,000 plants of Goji berry this season, which will bear fruits after four years,” Director Jammu and Kashmir Medicinal Plants Introduction Centre JKMPIC,. Sheikh Gulzaar said. Excited over the increase in the annual production of indigenous varieties of fruit and expansion in total horticultural area, Sheikh Gulzaar’s fresh vision is to introduce new exported varieties of fruit in Kashmir, so that “Kashmir’s Fruit production offers a wide variety of fresh fruit in market.” “We are blessed with temperate climate and fertile soil, so we do not face any challenge while introducing new imported varieties on our soil. Goji berry is a temperate fruit, and Kashmir’s climate and soil is apt for its growth,” Sheikh GULZAAR said. He added that Kashmir witnesses 10 percent increase in its annual fresh fruit production. “We are happy with the production of our fresh fruit. Now our focus is to enhance the quality of our produce and to introduce new varieties of international standard. Goji berry fruit is one of the new varieties,” Sheikh GULZAAR added. For introducing new fruit in the Valley, Jammu and Kashmir Medicinal Plants Introduction Centre JKMPIC exported the ‘Goji berry plant material’ collected from Kashmir Himalayan mountains two years back and propagated it into a mother plant in a high-tech green house at in Kashmir . The mother plant later propagated into thousands of Goji berry plant saplings, before being introduced into fields. “Now, we will introduce it everywhere in valley where irrigation facility is smooth. We hope that it will become one more cash crop of Kashmir in future,” said director Jammu and Kashmir Medicinal Plants Introduction Centre JKMPIC, adding, Goji berry plants would be introduced in both government sector farming and among private growers.

    More details: http://jkmpic.blogspot.in

    ReplyDelete