Goji berries have become popular in the West because of their reputed potential for increasing health and longevity. While there is still not a lot of hard scientific evidence regarding their benefits, goji berries may be useful for the prevention or treatment of numerous serious diseases. If you would like to use goji berries, you may find that they are not always easy to find. Your best quick option will be to visit your local Asian market. If you cannot find any there, consider using one of the goji berry substitutes below instead. All should be easier to find than goji berries.
Your best bet: Dried cranberries
The antioxidant value of a food is typically quantified by its Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) value. There are a number of similarities that make dried cranberries the best analogue for goji berries. Like goji berries, dried cranberries are very rich in antioxidants with an ORAC value of 9,090. While goji berries do have higher concentrations of vitamin A and protein, cranberries have a greater range of nutrients, including many not found in goji berries. Cranberries have decent levels of vitamin K, potassium and cryptoxanthin. None of those are present in goji berries to any significant degree. Also important is the fact that dried cranberries are more similar in taste to goji berries than most other potential substitutes. Like goji berries, cranberries are red and will have a more similar appearance and texture when compared to other substitutes.
Use dried cranberries as a 1:1 substitute for goji berries in any application.
A decent second choice: Blackberries
Goji berries have an ORAC value of 3,290, which places them above may fruits including blueberries and apples. However, blackberries have a considerably higher ORAC value at 4,669. If you want to eat goji berries purely for their nutritional value, an equivalent amount of blackberries can provide many of the same benefits including high levels of vitamin C. Blackberries are also good sources of antioxidants and fiber. The fiber can help to promote weight loss. They do not contain as much protein as goji berries, nor is their appearance similar; however, they can still be used in many of the same applications including as an addition to cereals.
Use blackberries as a 1:1 substitute for goji berries. Note that since dried blackberries are not very common, you will have to use the fresh fruit in most cases. This means that you will be adding more moisture and sweetness to your dish than you would get from goji berries. As a result, fresh blackberries may not be an ideal substitute in all dishes.
In a pinch: Raspberries
Raspberries are another fruit that contains a higher antioxidant capacity when compared to goji berries. They contain polyphenols called ellagitannins that provide their antioxidant properties. With an ORAC value of 5,065 raspberries also rank higher than both blueberries and blackberries in terms of their antioxidant capacity. Raspberries are rich in both fiber and vitamin C like goji berries. Raspberries and goji berries are both red and both can provide a tart fruitiness in some applications.
Like blackberries, raspberries are most commonly found only in their fresh form, which means that they may not always be the perfect dried goji berry substitute. If you do use them, you may have to adjust your recipe to compensate for the additional moisture. Raspberries can also be sweeter than goji berries, so you may have to adjust sweeteners in the recipe as well.
Use raspberries as a 1:1 substitute for goji berries.
Both dried and fresh blueberries are familiar and relatively easy to find. While they have the lowest ORAC value of any of the options mentioned above, they are still highly nutritious and full of antioxidants. They can serve as an acceptable substitute in most preparations that require goji berries.