Alternate names
Wolfberry, Chinese wolfberry, mede berry, barbary matrimony vine, bocksdorn, Duke of Argyll’s tea tree, Murali (in India), red medlar, or matrimony vine. It is also available in few health food markets under the brand names Tibetan goji and Himalayan goji. They are supposedly a little different variety from the traditional Chinese wolfberry with their own unique nutrients.

Origins
One of the sweeping sensations currently in the U.S and probably in many other countries are these Goji Berries. It is a native of Asia (especially China,Tibet, and Mongolia) and southeastern Europe. I think its fame in the United States started with a claim by few companies that a man named “Li Qing Yuen” lived to a ripe old age of 252 yrs after having consumed Goji berries daily ( its an unsupported claim though!). The origin for the name ‘goji’ probably comes from its original Chinese name ‘gǒuqǐzi’.

Health Benefits
It is causing all these sensationalism not without reason. It is one of the most nutrient rich natural foods which is brimming with antioxidants. They are also bestowed with high levels of vitamins,minerals,amino acids and good omega fats. And of course the main reason for which it became famous for – having anti-aging properties. It is for this reason its regarded as a Super food in China. To sum up, Goji berry contains:

  • Polysaccharides : This is what which helps to fortify our immune system and control body’s defense system.
  • Antioxidants : It is rich in antioxidants, specially carotenoids.
  • 19 Different Amino Acids : It has the essential building blocks of protein, including the 8 essential ones.
  • Immense Vitamin C: A true competitor for Oranges, Goji has more vitamin c than an orange can provide.
  • Minerals and Fats : Along with the above, it has B complex vitamins, Vitamin E, essential fatty acids and Betaine.

How does it taste
The taste is somewhat in the middle of a cranberry and a cherry as some say while few others are reminded of raspberries and plums. You decide!. If you are like me, you wont be too pleased about how it tastes when raw although many others prefer eating it straight from the packet. I especially prefer it cooked where it tastes chewy and firm. Even I find it closer to cranberry in taste.

Goji Berries in Cooking
Usually, dried Goji berries are cooked before consumption. You can eat them as they are or simply plump them up in warm water to add to your recipes. You can add them to your morning porridge, muesli, hold/cold cereals, trail mix, in baked bars, in tea etc. Have it as a juice – you can also blend them along with other fruits. You can in fact add a handful to your water bottle and eat them as you drink. There are no precise ways to make use of these berries – the more creative you get, more beautiful its usage.

Availability
Its quite expensive in the United states and is available mostly in ethnic Asian markets and health food stores. There are few online stores available which sell goji berries. Please use your discretion since I have NOT personally used these services

Storage
They are best stored in a sealed container at or below 30°C. if stored properly they keep well for about 12 months. If you are unsure about your temperature, they are better refrigerated. It is supposedly good to extend its shelf life to another 1 year. To eat them, bring them down to room temperature. They taste better this way.

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