Published as a new study in the Journal of Food Science, this unfamiliar fruit hailing from North and South Dakota in the US was found to be rich in lycopene – an antioxidant which is believed to lower the risk of certain cancers. Additionally, the buffaloberry exhibited an acidic compound called methyl-lycopenoate, which can be used to colour food naturally. It is the same pigment (carotenoids) that gives tomatoes and carrots their vibrant hues.
As well as this, the tiny red, slightly sour berries contain phenolic antioxidants, responsible for their lovely tart flavour and thought to play a role in slowing down cellular ageing and again, in preventing cancer.
Traditionally enjoyed by Native American people, the new findings suggest the buffaloberry crop would be valuable in other regions, particularly those in need of nutritional development. According to the study, the hearty crop can grow virtually anywhere, even in dry environments with inferior soil.
Sweet enough to enjoy both fresh or dried, their acidity makes the buffaloberry fruit ideal for winemaking also.
While commercial production is still very limited, researchers claim that the “potential for growing, consuming, and marketing buffaloberry fruit on and around Midwestern Native American Reservations provides both and economic and nutritional opportunity that should be exploited.”