You’ve likely heard of these tiny red-orange berries and are wondering how to use goji berries and what all the fuss is about. Goji berries (sometimes referred to as wolfberries), have become a hot item in the health food world in the past several years for its nutrient-rich properties and health benefits.
Goji berries (common varieties being Lycium chinense or Lycium barbarum) are members of the nightshade family. Many Asian cultures have used goji berries for thousands of years as an ingredient in dishes, and to promote overall health.
You can buy fresh or dried goji berries in various Asian supermarkets, and health food stores. A quick online search brings out a number of goji supplements and powders too (make sure you buy these from a reputable supplier).
Or, perhaps you’re lucky enough to have a goji berry plant of your own providing you with a source of fresh goji berries. With the right propagation methods, growing a goji plant isn’t as difficult as it sounds.
If you have a bunch of goji berries and are wondering what the heck to do with them, don’t fret. Goji berries are versatile and useful in a variety of sweet and savory cooked, baked, or fresh dishes. Sprinkle them as a garnish on cereal, use them like cranberries in baking, add them to smoothies, or incorporate them into a tasty soup.
Here’s how to use goji berries in your everyday diet.
Goji berry benefits
Rich in fiber and protein, goji berries also contain many vitamins, antioxidants, and all eight essential amino acids. The fiber and protein help keep your body feeling satiated.
Goji berries are jam-packed with Vitamin A. A 100 gram serving of dried goji berries contains 26,822 IU. The upper limit of vitamin A per day is 10,000 IU; any more than this and you risk the chance of vitamin toxicity. This is why you need only a small handful of goji berries, or it could be too much of a good thing.
Goji berries contain:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
Goji berries are used in traditional Chinese medicine for anti-aging, boosting immunity, and preventing cancer.
Before you start binging on these berries, be aware of some precautions and warnings. Please speak to your doctor to see if goji berries are safe for you.
Do not consume goji berries if you are:
- Pregnant or breastfeeding. Goji berries may cause uterine contractions.
- Allergic to foods like tomatoes, peaches, nuts, and tobacco. Goji berries, being a member of the nightshade family, may cause possible allergic reactions in some people.
Use caution if you have:
- Diabetes. Goji berries may cause blood sugar levels to drop.
- Low blood pressure. Goji berries may cause blood pressure levels to drop.
What do goji berries taste like?
Slightly tart, slightly sweet, goji berries have a unique flavor profile sort of like a sour cherry. They go surprisingly well with sweet or savory dishes. You can eat them fresh, cooked, or dried. When dried, they resemble red raisins and you can use them as such.
Ways to eat goji:
- Raw: Plucked fresh from the shrub. Grab a few as a healthy midday snack.
- Garnish: Top your morning cereal or oatmeal with goji.
- Blend: Add a few goji berries to your morning smoothie.
- Cooked: The sweet-tart flavor of goji pairs well with savory meat dishes. You can also add them in soups and stews.
- Baked: Dried goji berries are often used in baking. Try them in muffins, scones, and bread. Simply soak them in hot water for a few minutes to rehydrate them.
How to use fresh goji berries
Keep fresh, unwashed goji berries in the fridge just as you would other berries. Before eating, give them a thorough wash with cold water. Since goji berries are rather small, use a colander with small holes, or even a sieve to wash them.
Keep a small batch in the fridge to grab as a healthy snack, or to top up your morning cereal.
Here’s a roundup of recipes using fresh goji berries.
Start the day right with this chia seed pudding topped with goji berries, goldenberries, and cashews (via Food 52).
The tartness of fresh goji berries livens up this healthy coconut pudding (via ProjectWellnessNow).
It’s hard to resist homemade dumplings! This recipe calls for fresh gojis that will later be steamed (via Family Focus Blog).
How to use dried goji berries
Goji berries are commonly sold in a dried state. They have a texture similar to a raisin, with a slightly tart taste similar to a cranberry with less sweetness.
The best way to store dried goji berries is in a sealed container in a cool, dark place such as your pantry. When properly stored, dried goji berries have a long shelf life, up to one year.
There are several ways to dry goji berries. The easiest one involves laying a single layer of goji berries on a flat tray to sun-dry for several days. I remember my grandma doing this when I was a little girl. You can also oven-dry them, or use a dehydrator if you have one.
Most baking recipes use dried goji berries. The tartness of goji pairs well with chocolate which is why you’ll find so many recipes with this two-ingredient combo.
Try making your own trail mix, granola, or top up your morning cereal with dried goji. Have fun with dried goji berries and get creative!
These no-bake bite-sized vanilla goji balls are perfect for snacks on-the-go. Raw and vegan-friendly (via Running On Real Food).
These yummy scones are perfect for brunches and for sharing (via SELF).
Poached chicken with crisp veggies finished with a drizzle of pickled goji berry dressing (via Healthy World Cuisine).
Cacao and goji pair perfectly with these energy bars (via Fearne Cotton).
The ultimate guilt-free dessert for chocolate-lovers (via This Rawsome Vegan Life).
A homemade granola bar where you can actually pronounce all the ingredients. Features oats, sunflower seeds, nut butter, and of course goji berries (via Citron Limette).
How to cook with goji berries
If you need to rehydrate dried goji berries, just soak them in hot water for about 10 minutes and drain. The goji berries are plump and soft. You can also cook with fresh goji berries—just give them a rinse in cold water first.
Goji berries pair nicely with pork, as well as savory soups, stews, and veggie dishes.
Here are a few ways to cook with goji berries:
This is the kind of soup that reminds me of my grandma’s cooking. Chinese spinach soup with a handful of goji berries and dried anchovies (via Messy Witchen).
Fight off cold and flu season with this tasty immune-boosting soup featuring onions, yams, mushrooms, and goji berries (via Mother Earth News).
A traditional Asian comfort soup topped with goji berries (via Spice the Plate).
Tomatoes, onions, chili, and goji berries combine to make one delicious, fiery soup (via Wallflower Kitchen).
How to use goji berries for drinks
While you can buy goji drinks and juice at health food stores, these splurges quickly add up. It’s better bang for your buck to make your own goji drinks at home. You just need a handful of fresh, dried, or frozen goji berries to add to your drink of choice.
Try brewing a hot cup of goji tea as a comforting evening ritual. Or blend goji berries to make a smoothie or juice.
Here are a few drink recipes featuring goji berries:
Combine the powers of ginseng and goji berries for a super immune booster (via Candids by Jo).
Kale, goji berries, and coconut water are the stars of this healthy smoothie (via Seasonal Cravings).
Goji berries add a nice twist to classic apple cider. This recipe is a large batch perfect for entertaining (via Swirls and Spice).
An easy and tasty smoothie with only four ingredients (via All Recipes).