Harvesting Goji Berry | Wolfberry | Lycium barbarum

This week I was out Harvesting Goji Berry | Wolfberry | Lycium barbarum.  I’m a little late, but did have some berries left.  Normally I’m harvesting from July until first frost, but this year I have been tied up with the business and they have not produced quite as well as usual due to a drought.

Harvesting Goji Berry | Wolfberry | Lycium barbarum

Harvesting Goji Berry | Wolfberry | Lycium barbarum

The Basics

Before I get into how to go about harvesting goji berry, let’s discuss some basics of goji berry. The goji berry has a scientific name of Lycium barbarum, and is also called the wolfberry.  It is a shrub that has purple flowers in the spring and early summer followed by bright orange-red berries in the late summer into fall.   They are native to China and are part of the nightshade family, which also includes potato, peppers, tomato, and eggplant.

Growth Habitat

Goji is woody perennial in zones 5-9 that is deciduous and grows three to five feet in height, with long arching stems.  The flowers are a purple to lavender color with 5 to 6 lobes. After flowering, green berries grow that turn bright orange-red when ripe.  The fruit has 10 to 60 small yellow seeds and ripens from June to October.

Harvesting Goji Berry | Wolfberry | Lycium barbarum

Harvesting Goji Berry | Wolfberry | Lycium barbarum

Vitamins and Minerals

Goji berries are high in iron and fiber as well as vitamins A and C, low in calories and high in dietary protein. Studies have cited the high level of antioxidants in goji berries, especially zeaxanthin.

Medicinal?

According to Webmd.com, Many health claims have been made for goji berries, including maintaining a healthy heart and circulation, boosting the immune system, protecting against cancer and increasing longevity, yet the medical evidence to back up these claims is weak.” *

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.  This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Picking

You want to pick berries that are a fire engine red color.  To pick goji berries, just grab the berry between your index finger and thumb and pull down.  They usually leave the stems behind.

Process

You can dehydrate the berries, eat them fresh, or make a number of recipes with them. I have washed my berries and will put them in sandwich baggies and eat them with lunch this week.  They have a bit of a strange taste when eaten right out of hand.  The taste is almost soap like to me.  I do like the taste a little better when they are dried, but won’t go through the trouble of drying this few berries.

Harvesting Goji Berry | Wolfberry | Lycium barbarum

Harvesting Goji Berry | Wolfberry | Lycium barbarum

Other Uses

Dried goji berries are cooked and added to several dishes including; rice congee, almond jelly, and Chinese tonic soups and is said to go well with pork, chicken and vegetable stir fries.  Goji berries can also be used in herbal teas.  You can also eat the young shoots and leaves as well as using the berries for the production of wine.

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