Q: Can I use dried goji berries in smoothies? Do I need to soak them first? What about other dried fruit?
A: Believe it or not, this is one of the most common questions we get here at Navitas! It's super easy to incorporate goji berries and other dried fruits into â€œregularâ€ recipes (or just enjoy them straight from the bag), but how to best utilize them in smoothies is a slightly different story.
If you have a high speed blender, such as the Vitamix we use in our Smoothment videos, you actually don't need to do anything to dried fruit other than add it to your blender -- goji berries included. Because of the impressive horsepower of these machines, within just about 15 seconds, they have done an impressively good job of grinding up the chewy dried fruit into smoothie liquid bliss. There are a couple exceptions to this rule - dried pears, goldenberries, some (drier) dried figs, and dried mango are a little difficult for even these top-notch blenders to handle, and will remain a little chunky in the smoothie. You can easily incorporate these ingredients however using the soaking method mentioned below.
For other kinds of blenders (or if you simply notice your machine is not efficient enough), a soaking method is recommended. Note that unlike with seeds and raw nuts, which actually become slightly more digestable after being soaked, there is really no noticeable nutiritional advantage to soaking dried fruit - it is simply a method to improve texture. To soak, simply place the dried fruit in anywhere from 2-3 times the amount of water, and let steep until softened and plumped up. This can range from fruit to fruit: goji berries take about 15-20 minutes, dates 15-30, mulberries 20-30, goldenberries about 2-3 hours. You can dramatically speed up this process by using warm water which essentially brews the fruit into a light â€œtea,â€ but be aware that boiling water will begin to minimize a few of the nutritional benefits.
Lastly, if you're going to the trouble of soaking dried fruit, one last word of advice: use the soak water for your smoothie too! Some of the fruit's flavor steeps out into the water (especially true with goji berries), and even some water-soluble vitamins are transferred into the liquid, so be sure to cash in on all flavor and nutrition your ingredients have to offer by blending everything all together. Your smoothie will be the better for it!
Don't want soak or blend at all? No worries! Navitas offers many superfood berries in powdered form (from goji berry powder, to goldenberry powder, to acai berry powder, etc) which makes blending - even in just a shaker cup! - easier than ever.
Have a superfood smoothie question of your own? Ask away! Just post it below and we may feature it in an upcoming segment of Ask The Chef.