Goumi is a medium-sized shrub from Asia that is gaining popularity in western gardens. The berries are used medicinally and sweeter varieties are great for eating fresh. Goumi shrubs are nitrogen fixers, benefiting the plants around them with higher nitrogen soil – great for leaf growth. The shrub has long thorns that are easy to spot and avoid.
We have two varieties planted on the homestead: Sweet Scarlet and Red Gem. The former has larger, plump, sweet tasting fruit while the later has smaller, more tart berries. Red Gem is planted near our birdbath and we are fine with those guys harvesting the berries. The Sweet Scarlet is planted further away and seems to get missed by the birds, leaving tons of sweet fruit for us.
Harvest time is in June for goumi shrubs and the branches on our plants were bent over from the weight of fruit. With Juniper supervising, I harvested about fifteen pounds of berries from our Sweet Scarlet shrub. As the weight of berries was lifted, the branches began to spring back upward. That showed off the lovely grey underside of the leaves.
What to do with fifteen pounds of goumi berries? The fruit is said to be low in acid, which makes me nervous about canning it. Instead, I decided to juice the berries and preserve them in the freezer. That way I don’t have to worry about acidity level – just flavor. Here was my process:
- Rinse the berries. Don’t worry about separating the thin stems from the fruit.
- Simmer three parts goumi berries with one part strawberry, raspberry or other sweet berry. This gave my mixture a lift in flavor without masking the goumi taste too much. For every two cups of berries, add one cup of water.
- Meanwhile, in a separate pot make a simply syrup by combining one cup water with one cup sugar. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Set aside.
- Strain berries through a sieve, cheesecloth or a food mill. This separates the juice and pulp from the stems and large fibrous seeds. Compost the stems and seeds.
- Combine simple syrup with berry juice. I used three parts juice to one part syrup, but do this slowly and keep tasting until it is sweet enough for your preference.
- Pour goumi syrup into freezer containers, label and tuck away.
Preserving goumis as a syrup leaves the door open for versatility later. When I want a pancake or waffle topping, I will simmer some syrup with cornstarch until it’s thickened. I can add a goumi syrup to iced tea or mix with club soda for a cool summer drink. It can also be drizzled onto baked goods as desired.