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WHAT IS GOJI?

Goji berry is a small oblong berry about the size of a medium to large grape. It is an orange to red in color. Often described as mild and slightly tangy when eaten fresh, the Goji berry has a great taste sensation and a characteristic chewy texture. It is consumed fresh in and around the areas where it is grown. However most of the world knows Goji as a dried fruit or juice and resembles a raisin in this form. The dried Goji berry takes on a sort of nutty raisin flavor with a consistency of a dried apricot. Similar to other dried fruits, Goji berries can be eaten right out of the bag, added to baked goods and smoothies, or tossed into salad, cereal or yogurt. In the Chinese culture dried Goji berries are put into soups and other hot dishes and used as a cold remedy much like the west uses chicken soup. They are most often used in soups or served in dishes such as rice congee.

Goji originated in the Tibetan Himalayas. However Goji berries are now grown throughout southwestern China and today still grow in dense inaccessible patches that are not cultivated. Most commercially exported Goji berries are found in several different temperate and subtropical regions throughout central and western China. Nutritional and phytochemical qualities of Goji berries vary by area, fueling disputes over which region cultivates the best berries.

Goji berries grow on woody plants that grow between three and twelve feet tall. The flowers resemble columbine blossoms and are pale purple in color. They are so treasured that the Chinese celebrate a several-day wolfberry festival each August. The Chinese harvest the red, oblong berries by hand, shaking the plants and allowing the berries to release. They protect the berries from becoming bruised during the harvest. The most popular form of Goji that is exported are the dried or powdered berries and/or as a juice.