Kashgar Barberry Berries
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Kashgar barberries are small, globular berries, averaging 1 to 3 centimeters in diameter, and have a round to elliptical shape, attached to slender stems and growing on a spiny and widely branched shrub. The berry’s skin is smooth, waxy, and taut, covered in a pale bloom, and is dark blue-purple, almost appearing black. Underneath the surface, the flesh is aqueous and pale purple with a soft and crisp consistency. Kashgar barberries are considered to have a balanced, sweet and sour flavor with some acidity and tartness.
Kashgar barberries are available in the late summer through winter in Asia.
Kashgar barberries, botanically classified as Berberis kaschgarica, are a rare variety that grows on evergreen shrubs and belongs to the Barberry family. The cultivar is named after its native region, Kashgar, which is a city in Western China known as an important stop for trade along the Silk Road. It is also found in limited quantities in the neighboring country of Kyrgyzstan. Kashgar barberries were listed on the Red List Of Endangered Species in 1985, which was created by the International Union For Conservation Of Nature and is a list that brings awareness to the status of threatened plants and animals. The variety is now considered stable, but it still difficult to find due to limited habitat and availability. Despite its rarity, Kashgar barberries are favored as a specialty, ornamental home garden plant in the shrub’s native region, and are valued for its resistance to extreme weather temperatures and prolific nature, bearing numerous dark blue-purple berries. These small berries are also be used in a wide variety of culinary applications and add sweet-tart flavors to both sweet and savory dishes.
Kashgar barberries are a good source of vitamin C, which is an antioxidant that can help protect and boost the immune system. The berries also contain anti-inflammatory properties and acids that can help cleanse the body and remove toxins.
Kashgar barberries are best suited for both raw and cooked applications such as boiling and baking. The berries can be consumed fresh, out-of-hand, tossed into salads, used as a topping over ice cream, or they can be juiced as a sweet-tart beverage. The berries can also be crushed and steeped in boiling water to make a tea, fermented into wine, boiled into a syrup, compote, or filling for baked goods and pastries, or cooked into jams and jellies. In addition to sweet preparations, Kashgar barberries can be paired with cooked meats, salted and pickled, or dried and mixed into rice dishes. They are also well-suited in spicy dishes for added acidity with a hint of sweetness. Kashgar barberries pair well with pomegranate juice, dark chocolate, horseradish, meats such as veal, goose, poultry, and beef, almonds, and spices such as coriander, cinnamon, and cumin. The fresh berries will keep 1-2 weeks when stored in the refrigerator. Dried berries will keep up to sixteen months when stored in a cool, dry, and dark place.
In Asia, barberries have been used in traditional folk medicine for thousands of years to help increase immunity and reduce symptoms associated with fevers, loss of appetite, and colds. The berries are commonly infused into decoctions and teas for their antioxidants and vitamin C and are consumed as a natural booster. Dried barberries are also sometimes used in teas, and the acidity found within the berries can act as a substitute for lemon in the healing medicinal drinks.
Kashgar barberries are native to the mountainous slopes and wide river basins found in the regions of modern-day Western China and Kyrgyzstan. Today the berries are considered rare and are found in limited availability at local markets in China, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Tibet. Dried Kashgar barberries are also imported on a small scale from Kyrgyzstan to Germany.
Recipes that include Kashgar Barberry Berries. One is easiest, three is harder.
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