Goji Berry: It’s a Super Food, But Does it Taste Super Good?

I have been trying to eat and cook a lot healthier lately and I came across an awesome superfood called goji berries. As they’ve gained popularity rather recently, I am sure you are wondering: What do goji berries taste like?

I was definitely hesitant to try them out at first because they sound quite exotic, and I had heard not so good reviews about the taste, but you have to try everything at least once, right?

Here’s the lowdown on goju berries, how to prepare them, and why you should start eating this superfood – right now!

Where to Goji?

Goji berries are commonly grown in Asia, mainly in China and in the Himalayas of Tibet. You may also hear them being referred to by different names – Chinese wolfberries of Tibetan goji (source).

Nowadays, goji berries can be found in some well-stocked groceries – check out your local grocer’s health food section – or in most health food stores. These superfoods are all the rage now, so you should not have a hard time finding them in dried or powdered form. You may have to search a little bit harder for the fresh berries, though.

Berry Good

While goji berries are seeing a resurgence in popularity today, they have actually been around for centuries, used in ancient Chinese medicine.

  • In Chinese medicine, goji berries are included in immune tonics and blood tonics (source) as they pack a powerful punch of vitamin C, boosting the immune system significantly (source).
  • High in antioxidants, the berries are also anti-inflamatory (source).
  • They are chockful of micronutrients like vitamin A and iron, and contain a complete set of the eight essential amino acids (source).
  • A one-ounce serving of the berries has 4 grams of protein and three grams of fiber (source). They are also fat-free and low in calories. A combination of this is great for a regular bowel movement and promotes weight loss (source).
  • Loaded with beta-carotene, the berries also promote good eyesight and healthy skin (source).

The legendary healing properties might be just that, however – a legend. There is no solid scientific evidence on the goji berry’s ability to cure cancer and reverse the effects of aging, so take those bigger claims with a grain of salt.

A Little Bit of Everything

Talking of salt, I bet you’re dying to know by now how these berries taste.

Well, while there is no doubt that they are great for your health, whether or not you will like the taste is debateable.

The fresh berries are pretty bitter, so don’t be fooled by their juicy, cherry tomato appearance (source). It is no wonder that the Chinese used these as medicine. Actually, the berries are not normally consumed fresh because of that overwhelmingly bitter taste.

The dried variety is a bit more palatable. It still has that slightly bitter taste, but with more tartness and a sweet aftertaste (source).

I guess you could compare goji berries to cranberries, sour plums or sour cherries. I happen to like tart berries and fruits, so I found goji berries pretty good. That hint of medicinal bitter herb flavor was not enough to throw me off.

The berries have tiny seeds, sort of like figs, that can give a new and interesting texture to your smoothie or soup (source).

If you have a sweet tooth and love delicate, sugary fruits, goji berries might be too aggressive for you. But do give them a try – don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it!

Ready, Set, Goji!

Ready to whip up some goji berry treats? The interesting thing about the super berry is it can be used for both sweet and savory preparations.

A good rule of thumb when trying to incorporate goji berries into your meals is to think of it as a raisin (source).

  • If you run with that idea, a bunch of recipes will surely come to mind. Perhaps try subbing in goji berries for raisins in cookies and other baked goods. Or try them as a topper to put some texture and a kick of flavor into your oatmeal.

    These can also be good mixed into your favorite greek yogurt with fruits and granola, or add a sprinkling of them onto your next acai bowl.

  • I am not bothered by the bitter hint of the dried goji berries, so I love just throwing a handful of them into my favorite trail mix. It lends the old mix a new, exotic taste, plus it’s super energizing and great for keeping up my energy when I travel.
  • Another way to play with dried goji berries is to soak them in hot water for a few minutes to rehydrate them. Soaking them also helps remove the bitterness even more and you’re left with a plump berry, reminiscent of a sweet cheery tomato (source).

The rehydrated berry adds a little sweetness to spiced rice or grain pilafs; it can tame a chili with a bit of sweet and sour; it can add new dimensions of flavor to a salsa; or it can be added to tomato sauce.

  • Back on the sweet end of the spectrum goji berries can be added to ice cream and other frozen desserts.

    Another favorite of mine is to add some berries to my morning smoothie. The taste is tamed by the other fruits that you add to the mix – my favorites are pineapples and bananas – and you reap all the benefits that the superfood adds to your power smoothie.

You can find a bunch of great recipes for goji berry first timers here and here. Do try them out and let me know what you think!

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