You will get goji berries already dried in the United States and at times people wonder what they can do with the fresh ones. Goji berries can be added to different things as a tasty complement to salads, cereals, smoothies, and some other things, they are very versatile.
The bone of contention is what you can do when you have fresh goji berries. They can be dried, canned, frozen, and also added to meals like oatmeal and it can also be added as toppings for meals like smoothie bowls.
What Are Goji Berries?
Goji berries are little berries that are pinkish-red or dried wrinkly red berries that you will find to be smaller in size than raisins but it is not cranberries. You can refer to fresh goji berries as wolfberries that originate from China for their medicinal purposes. They are a pleasing sour and sweet kind of berry depending on their ripeness, they will usually get sweeter the longer you leave them inside the bush.
This is a berry that grows in the autumn and will usually last following the season’s first frost. They are usually harvested before they become ripe and this will leave them with a tarter taste. The fresh berries that are frozen are sweeter in flavor because they are frozen immediately after being picked ripe. You are allowed to pick to your sweetness if you have where you grow them.
Health Benefits of Goji Berries
Goji Berries have all of the nine essential amino acids and this is not usual for foods that are plant-based. Contained in them are also iron, zinc, vitamin A and C. They also contain a series of antioxidants and fibers. Goji berries were used to treat issues with the liver, kidney, and eyes in ancient China.
They have been linked to being involved weight-loss because of being well dense in nutrient and low in calorie and that means you are allowed to eat them in excess and nicely fill up because of the fiber, yet your calories count will not become increased. Goji berries have also been found to help boost the immune and health system thanks to the presence of antioxidants that are highly potent.
Washing your Fresh Goji Berries
It is ideal to wash all your fresh produce before they are eaten and this is the same with goji berries. They should also be washed even if you want to get them stored. To stop them from becoming mushy, if you want to store some that you will eat fresh, you should refrigerate them without washing them and then you can do the washing when you want to eat them. Use a colander that has small holes to wash the goji berries by allowing them to be under very cold water.
This is when they are not organic, the produce wash will help you remove any chemical leftovers. The mixture of water and white vinegar can also be used by filling your bowl with ¼ cup of your white vinegar and one cup of your water depending on the number of goji berries that are needed to be washed. You will then ensure that you thoroughly rinse them so that the taste of vinegar will not be left in them. Use a paper towel or tea towel to pat them until they are dry.
How to Freeze your Goji Berries
It is very easy to freeze goji berries all you need to do is to ensure they have been dried completely before you freeze them because putting them inside your freezer wet will destroy the food’s integrity because of the excess formation of ice crystals. Goji berries perform better the quicker you freeze them and it is better to freeze them individually.
All you need is to use parchment paper to line your baking sheet and spread the goji berries on it in single even layers and then place them inside the freezer in the area they will be coldest. Within 30 minutes, they would have become frozen individually and you can then pour all of them inside a Tupperware container or single freezable Ziploc bag and ensuring there is no excess air.
The goji berries can last longer than three months if you have sealed them properly and ensure you date and label the container or bag so that you will know when to use them.
How to Thaw your Goji Berries
Goji berries used in baking recipes do not have to thaw before they are used, they can be added frozen and this is also the same as using it with sauce. However, in case you wish to eat them fresh, thaw them easily by leaving them on a counter. They will usually thaw quickly under 10 minutes when you spread them evenly. You may also defrost it by placing the container inside the sink.
How to Dry your Goji Berries
Goji berries found at stores are usually dried and that is a way you can store and also eat the berries. You can dehydrate or dry them yourself in case you have them in fresh supplies. The first thing to do when you want to dry the berries will be to pierce each berry on the skin because it will help to enhance the process of drying and also helps the even drying of the berries.
Traditionally, goji berries are dried by spreading them out evenly in single layers on your baking sheet that you have used parchment paper to line. All you need to do is to ensure you kept them in a dry, cool place, a place not in contact with direct sunshine. You may find it difficult to do if you stay in an area of high humidity because air dry is very important in the process of drying. You may use cheesecloth to cover the berries and leave them inside direct sun to enhance the process if you stay in a dry and hot place but ensure you occasionally check them by keeping them dry as well as turning them frequently.
Dehydrating your Goji Berries in a Dehydrator
You may also use a dehydrator to help dehydrate your goji berries by following the directions on the package.
Using your Oven to Dry your Goji Berries
You can also dry the goji berries inside the oven but it will not be quicker:
- Put the baking sheet containing the goji berries inside your oven around 150°F low heat.
- You will have to monitor them every 30 minutes though it will take some hours to finish drying.
- To ensure they are evenly drying, turn them occasionally.
- The amount you have placed inside your baking sheet will determine the amount of time they will use to become dry.
The bright pinkish-red appearance of dry goji berries will be retained and then you can store them inside an air-tight container for about three months at room temperature.
Freezing Dry Goji Berries
You will get to remove every moisture on the berry by freezing them and special machines are used to accomplish this process in the food industry. You can, however, do it at home by following these steps:
- Try to get yourself a very large cooler and some rubber gloves of heavy-duty that will serve as protection to your hands.
- Place the clean, fresh goji berries inside the Ziploc bags for you to get the chance to lay them flat in single layers.
- You should ensure you allow excess air out of the bag when you are closing it and ensure that it is properly sealed.
- Put the bag at the base of your cooler and ensure you have your gloves on to cover your arms and proceed to cover completely cover the berries using dry ice.
- Use dry ice to layer multiple bags of goji berries and ensure that the dry ice has a good layer at the top.
- Allow the cooler to remain uncovered so that off-gassing can happen leaving it for up to 24 hours.
- Once you notice all dry ice is gone, then the berries have dried up adequately.
You can then move them from the cooler with the gloves on and they will become safe for your normal handles when they are back at room temperature. Once you have freeze-dried your goji berries, they can be stored either in the pantry or the freezer, and then they can stay nicely if sealed properly for a minimum of 12 months.
Rehydrating your Goji Berries
Goji berries are not needed to be rehydrated before they are eaten but they can be rehydrated if you want to. You can add them to ice cream, granola, or salads to give a little bit of chewy texture just like candies. To get their normal texture back, soak them inside a bowl containing water between 20 to 30 minutes.
How to Can the Goji Berries
You can either can goji berries by using a pressure canner or method of boiling water. You need to use a proper canning jar and lids like Wick Jars. You should first ensure that the berries and the jars are clean and nice. Warm your lids in hot water (not boiling) if you want to use mason jars that have aluminum jars.
Your berries can be preserved with sugar or without it;
- If you want to use sugar so that the berries will retain their sweet flavor, color, and shape, use ¼ cup to two cups of your sugar to water and allow it to boil. You should also add preservatives like ½ teaspoon of your citric acid for a quart of water or two tablespoons of your lemon juice
- Use seven quarts of water inside a pot if you are only using water
Fill the jars with goji berries as the water prepares to get boiled. When the water or syrup is boiling, try to fill the jars with your liquid and leave up to ½ of space at the topmost part of the jars to allow expansion.
In case you will use aluminum lids, put the ring and lid in the proper place and ensure you tighten. Put your rubber seal by fitting the lid on the clamps to help hold it together while it is inside the canner if you want to use Wick jars.
Put the jars containing berries either on your pressure canner or a boiling water bath if you want to use jar tongs. Leave your pint-sized jars for about 15 minutes and quart-sized jars for about 20 minutes for a water bath. You can leave them respectively for 8 to 10 minutes if you are using your pressure canner.
When using tongs again, remove the jars when done and put them on your cooling rack to cool and then get stored inside the pantry for about two years. You should ensure they are properly sealed by pressing the aluminum lids at the middle ensuring it does not pop down and up, it has not sealed properly in case it does. When you are using Wick jars, the lid should have been tightly stuck down, you can only unseal it by pulling it by the rubber tab.
Other Options to Store your Goji Berries
You can proceed to store goji berries inside a bowl you have not covered on the counter if you will use it within a few days but it should not be in direct sun for one or two days or they should be kept inside an air-tight container inside the fridge for about one week.
To refrigerate, keep the layers of the goji berries dry by putting a paper towel in between them so that they will not stick and squish together. Ensure you keep them in a Ziploc bag or sealed container because it will expire quicker when exposed to the fridge air.
How to Use your Goji Berries
You can use goji berries in several ways. Traditionally, they can be enjoyed by placing some handful inside a cup and add boiling water to help prepare a tea. They can also be added to your breakfast from pancakes to cereal and oatmeal. They can also be sprinkled to salads and mixed into a savory grain and rice dishes and they can also be baked by using them like raisins in the recipes. You can also add them to condiments such as sweet syrups, salsas, and salad dressings.