Types of dried barberry

The barberries put on sale in the market to be cooked with rice are of several types based on how they are harvested and dried:

1. Stacked or heaped barberry: This type of barberry was the most common one until a few years ago. The crop was harvested by shaking the shrub and striking it with a stick to collect the fruit on a cloth spread under the brush. The collected crop was then stacked on the ground or on the roofs of houses to be exposed to direct sunlight so that they could dry rapidly and become ready to be put on sale in the market. The barberries lost a considerable part of their juice in this harvest method and became withered and shrunk. In addition, since barberry juice is sticky and the barberries were put on the ground and were handled considerably to prevent rot and mold, they became contaminated with soil particles. The third factor damaging the appearance and quality of barberries was that the fruit was placed in an open and dusty place exposed to snow, rain and dust. These factors caused the fruit to have a dark, dusty and shriveled appearance. Consequently, they had the lowest quality and price among the various types of barberries.

At present, this method is used much less commonly used than before for processing barberries because it is a labor-intensive and non-standard picking and drying method. Nevertheless, the low-cost and rapid drying of the barberries in this method, and the fact that no covered storage house is needed for their processing, cause farmers in some regions to continue using it. 

2. Common barberry: The only difference between common and stacked barberry is that for common barberry the shrub is not shaken and scissors are used to harvest the crop. This prevents fruit burst and juice loss. After harvest, the cut branches containing the barberries are spread in an open space. A few days later, the fruit petioles dry up and the branches are shaken to separate the barberries from them. Due to direct exposure to sunlight and since the barberries are in an open space, it takes only a few days for them to be ready for being put on sale in the market. However, since the fruit is dried in open spaces on the ground and on the roofs of houses, it is still exposed to other damages, although the fact that covered storage houses are not required in this method and the fruit is dried rapidly and put on sale cause some farmers to prefer it to the traditional method. This type of barberries is superior to the stacked type in quality and appearance, but its price and quality are lower than other types of barberries.

3. Pomegranate-seed’s barberry (barberry like Pomegranate-seed) : Heavy barberries that are separated from branches during harvest and during the fruit transfer in baskets containing the cut branches, and also from the branches that are put on the scaffolds and dried in a covered space are called pomegranate-seed like barberries. They are the highest quality barberries and highly recommended for home use, because they are the heaviest barberries, are separated immediately after harvest from the branches and even from the petioles, and are spread out on scaffolds in a covered space without further handling in order to dry.

4. Puffy barberry: This is the most common type of barberries in the market. After being cut from the branches using scissors, the branches are transferred to the covered storage houses. The branches are laid in layers on scaffolds installed for this purpose. After at least 3-4 months, depending on the compactness of the branches, humidity, and use of air conditioners during the cold weather in winter, the barberries are dried and put on sale in the market. They are large, hollow (puffy), have a fixed and relatively light color, and are the most expensive type of barberries in the market.