Ingredient Spotlight: Barberries

We ate at a new Middle-Eastern restaurant over the weekend and our dish came with a warm sauce of tiny berries we can't wait to try at home. The sauce was just so deliciously tart and paired so well with the yogurt-marinated chicken we'd ordered! The waiter told us the secret ingredient: barberries...

Back home, a little internet research told us that these berries come from an ornamental shrub thought to have originated in Persia, but that is now widespread throughout Europe, China, and North Africa. The berries have been used medicinally as a cleanser and digestive aid. They're also extremely high in Vitamin C and anti-oxidants, and a few health food sites referred to them as the "new superfood"!

As we can attest, the berries are incredibly sour and tart (much more so than cranberries) and the ones we had were about the size of dried blueberries. We can see using them in meat dishes as a tangy counterbalance to the caramelized flavors in the meat. We'd also like to try pairing them with dark chocolate in some dessert recipes. A handful of dried berries would also make an interesting addition to morning oatmeal, snack bars, or trail mixes.

We found bags of dried barberries through health food stores on the internet and are planning to ask about them at Whole Foods and our local co-op. We didn't find any sources for fresh barberries, but we'll keep our eyes peeled now that we know about them!

Has anyone ever cooked with barberries?

Raw Dried Barberries, $19.95 for 16 oz, from Raw Food World

Related: Healthy Eating: What Should You Do With Goji Berries?

(Image: Flickr member guldfisken licensed under Creative Commons)