Goji berries – Goji Berry superfood seeds – also called wolfberry have become very fashionable in
recent years after being named as a vital part of various celebrities’
‘miracle’ diets. Although this excitement has largely died down, they are still considered by many a ‘superfood’ as
they contain a large proportion of elements which may prove to be useful in
helping with a variety of conditions such as macular degeneration of the retina
and also various auto immune diseases and cardiovascular problems. What is
definitely true is that they taste good and they are relatively easy to grow,
although as they are woody perennials you might find you have to wait a year or
so until you get a decent crop.
When you get your Goji berry seeds – Nicky’s Nursery has them in stock
– you will need to start them off inside in the autumn and bring them on until
you are able to plant them out in the spring when the ground has warmed up.
Goji berries are related to the potato and tomato but unlike them they form
woody stems and can grow up to 3 metres tall. You need to take this into
account when you plant them and also choose somewhere reasonably sheltered,
because a plant this size isn’t something you will want to be moving around too
much. The berries are carried in groups and grow to around a centimetre long.
In the UK you can expect them to ripen any time from the end of July but they
can take much longer, depending on the weather and whereabouts in the country they
are being grown.
Most Goji berries that you buy in the shops are dried, but this is to
help make them last longer, rather than because you have to eat them this way.
It is certainly a good way to preserve them – although they can be frozen – and
if you have a home desiccator it is easy. If you don’t, you can just lay them
out in a single layer on baking trays in an oven on the very lowest setting for
at least an hour, checking after forty minutes. Check on your oven’s
instructions; some have a special setting for drying foods. You can then use
them stirred into rice salads – they go really well with left over turkey and
pine nuts in a balsamic dressing – or into sweet rice dishes. Basically, you
can use them as you would dried cranberries, and you will (perhaps) be doing
yourself some good when you eat them as well.