Friday, June 5, 2009

Forgotten Fruits: Goji Berry (Wolfberry)

This berry isn't totally forgotten, it has recently found a new following in health circles, but it is still unavailable as a fresh fruit. It is sometimes labeled as the Himalayan or Nepal Goji Berry to some exoticism to the berry but it is most likely actually just from China, like Citrus.

The botanical name is Lycium barbarum. As you can see, the "Lycium" is indicative of the name "Wolfberry" However it is probably a misunderstanding. (Lycos is latin for wolf but lycii and goji are Chinese terms)

It's gain in popularity is due to its high level of antioxidants. It is labeled as a superfruit like the acai berry (but note that oranges and strawberries are also "superfruits"). They are available in stores such as whole foods and asian markets as dried fruits. They have consistencies like that of raisins. Here in the States people will eat them by themselves or mixed in foods akin to foods with raisins or dried cranberries. Most Goji berries are grown in the Ningxia Hui region of north central China. In August there are Goji berry festivals that coincide with the harvesting of the fruits.

In China they are typically cooked usually in soups. In fact Lisa often makes soup with Goji Berries as an ingredient. These soups are generally used as tonics and are supposed to make you healthier.

They aren't readily available fresh because they are not shipped well. Only in regions where they are grown can one find them fresh at a store or farmer's market.

You can actually find the plants for sale. I recently purchased one and I will probably get fruits some time next year. The plants are used for erosion control in semiarid regions of China and are also being used to reverse the effects of desertification.

When I get my first harvest of Goji Berries I would be more than happy to do some trading with my fellow victory gardeners.

Oh, and the first time I had ever heard of the term Goji berries was from the first video made of the fellow below. (this is the second video made of him but you can see some of the exotification of the fruit however false it may be.) I had always known them as Wolfberries before.

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