When you’re trying to decide what food to grow on your homestead there are a few things to consider. You should always plant things that grow well in your zone, will provide an abundant production, and above all it should be something you enjoy eating. So let’s consider the Goji Berry.
Goji berries are a nutritious and easy to grow berry with a unique taste. Fresh off the bush they are not greatly desirable as they are bland with a slightly bitter aftertaste. Once dried they acquire a much better taste similar to a raisin with a slight cranberry flavor. Fresh berries are best added to recipes such as smoothies and jams.
What Is A Goji Berry?
Also known as Wolf Berry, Boxthorn, and Matrimony vine the goji berry is native to Asia and is commonly used in Asian cuisine. These berries are often referred to and marketed as a superfood or a health food. The young shoots and leaves of the goji bush can also be harvested as a leaf vegetable.
The Goji plant is a thorny deciduous woody shrub, about 3 to 6 feet tall when pruned for best results, though plants can reach 12 feet. Goji is a member of the nightshade family, so its growing requirements are similar to that of tomatoes.
What Do Fresh Goji Berries Taste Like?
I still remember the first time I ate a goji berry off of the first bush I planted a few years ago. I’m not sure what I expected but I do remember being surprised by the taste, it wasn’t great. This plant took up way to much space in my garden to waste it on something I wouldn’t enjoy.
The taste was very bland and a few seconds after eating it a rather bitter aftertaste arose. Overall it was disappointing. I was encouraged however to find out that there were some other ways to consume these berries that was much more enjoyable.
Adding the goji berries to things like smoothies and jams and even drying them would make for a more enjoyable experience while still getting all the nutritional benefits goji berries have to offer.
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Dried Goji Berries Taste Better
After expressing my disappointment with my fresh goji berries online in my Facebook Group. Someone (thank you whoever you were) told me they were much better if they were dried. I immediately added a bunch to my dehydrator and turned them into little red goji berry raisins.
I couldn’t believe the difference this made. The berries became slightly sweet, lost the bitter aftertaste and took on that wonderful raisin texture. This difference in taste is due to during the drying process, the sugars in the berry become concentrated with the loss of water. This makes for a much better way to enjoy this snack and reap the benefits.
Another added benefit to dehydrating your goji berries is the preservation factor. Fresh goji berries go bad pretty quickly while dried berries can last 6 to 12 months if properly stored at a moderate room temperature or the refrigerator. They can be good up to 18 months in the freezer.
Adding Goji Berries To Recipes
Fresh goji berries go well in many recipes such as smoothies and jams while dried goji berries can be used the way they have been used for hundreds of years in Asian cuisine.
Here are a few of my favorite recipes involving goji berries.
Delicious Strawberry and Goji Berry Smoothie
- 1 cup frozen strawberries
- 1 banana, peeled
- 2 tablespoons fresh or dried goji berries
- 1 tablespoon almond butter
- ½ – 1 cup coconut milk
Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
Goji Berry and Prune Jam
- 1/2 cup of goji berries
- 1/4 cup of dried prunes
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 tsp ginger powder
- 2 tbsp of lemon juice
Mix all ingredients in a blender until pureed.
You can store the jam in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Goji Berry, Oat, and Apple Muffins
- 2 1/4 cup oat flour (blend to fine consistency)
- 1/2 cup oats
- 2 tbs flax meal
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp stevia extract
- Pinch of salt
- 2/4 cup grated apple
- 1/4 cup liquid coconut oil
- 1/4 cup almond milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup dried goji berries
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Place all dry ingredients in a large bowl and whisk together: oat flour, oats, flax meal, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, stevia, and salt
In a separate bowl, mix the wet ingredients: grated apple, liquid coconut oil, milk, vanilla extract
Pour liquids into the large bowl of dry ingredients, Mix until well incorporated
Mix in goji berries
Oil your cupcake baking pan and fill each one half way with batter
Place in oven and bake for 7-9 minutes
So Should You Grow Your Own Goji Berries?
Based on the price of dried goji berries alone I would say it’s a great idea to grow your own if you have the room, but there are a few things you should know first.
Goji berry bushes have a desire to take over the world! They need a lot of aggressive pruning attention every year to control them or they can get huge.
Goji berries bushes have large thorns that make them a little unpleasant when it comes to pruning and harvesting. I have heard it said this is the reason it adopted the name Matrimony Vine as it would be planted underneath the teenage daughters bedroom window to discourage any unauthorized exits or entries through the window with its thorns.
With all that being said, I have found it to be an easy plant to grow and further propagate from the shoots that come up around it. It has also been an extremely productive plant to have on the homestead. My opinion is that it is one plant you should try to find a place for on your property.
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