What Does Boysenberry Taste Like? Are Boysenberries Sweet Or Sour?

You know that the summer is approaching when you see that your favorite fruits, berries, and veggies are starting to appear on supermarket shelves. While we are all used to seeing bananas, apples, raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries, some exotic berries like boysenberries are still a mystery to us. But do not worry, you are not alone! In this article, you will learn what boysenberries are and what they taste like.

Boysenberries are a cross between a blackberry and a raspberry, a dewberry, and a loganberry first bred by Charles Rudolph Boysen in California in 1923. Boysenberries have a rich sweet, tangy, and sour taste that makes your lips pucker, a juicy and plump texture, and are dark red when ripe.

Now let’s learn more about this exotic berry’s complex taste profile and see where it is grown, what it pairs best with, and what health benefits it provides.

Boysenberry Taste Ultimate Guide

Boysenberries have a complex flavor profile as they combine 4 types of berries – blackberry, raspberry, dewberry, and loganberry. Boysenberries took their sweetness from a raspberry, tanginess, and juiciness from a blackberry, tartness from a dewberry, and sweetness and acidity from a loganberry.

Boysenberries have a perfect mix of sweet and sour notes that make your lips pucker but then sour and tangy notes are balanced by sweetness. Boysenberries have a juicy texture and just melt in your mouth when ripe. Boysenberries also have floral notes with acidic and even slightly spicy aftertaste. 

Ripe boysenberries are juicy, plump, equally sweet, and sour with some spicy and acidic notes. Ripe berries should be colored in an evenly reddish-purple hue and weigh around 8 grams (yes, boysenberries are pretty big!)

Are Boysenberries Sweet Or Sour?

Boysenberries are sweet and sour at the same time, and they also have a hint of acidity and spiciness. It is hard to say if boysenberries are more sweet than sour or sourer than sweet because they have such a complex flavor profile. Sweet, sour, fruity, floral, acidic, and even spicy – it is all true about boysenberries taste! They are also so plump and juicy, which makes them a perfect ingredient for juice, pies, and jam.

When you chew ripe boysenberries, you can taste a burst of fruity, floral, and tart flavors combined with honey-sweet notes. If your boysenberries are too sour, they are probably not ripe enough. Simply let them sit for 2-3 more days until they ripen and are ready to eat.

Summing up, it is clear that boysenberries have a richer flavor than their “parents” – boysenberry flavor is pretty intense – sweet, sour, tangy, floral, fruity, acidic, and even spicy – it is hard to find another berry with all these flavors! Some say that boysenberries also have subtle bitter notes, but I didn’t taste any.

What Are Boysenberries?

Boysenberries are hybrid berries that are thought to first have been grown by Rudolph Boysen on his farm in Anaheim (California). Boysenberries are, in fact, a cross of 4 berries – a blackberry, a raspberry, a dewberry and a loganberry. Even though boysenberries were first grown by Rudolf Boysen (hence the name), they were commercially cultivated by Walter Knott, a berry expert who actually found an abandoned Boysen farm with several frail vines that survived. Apparently, a few years after Boysen obtained hybrid berries, he lost interest and sold his farm.

Interestingly enough, Walter Knott, who started selling the berries in 1932, when asked the name of the berries, said they were called boysenberries after the name of their creator. The popularity of boysenberries grew rapidly, and Walter Knott created Knott’s Berry Farm and started making boysenberry preserves.

Boysenberries’ popularity in California was growing by the day, and in the 1940s, the fields dedicated to growing boysenberries were bigger than raspberry and blackberry fields. Unfortunately, growing boysenberries was no easy task – they were too susceptible to fungus and were too soft and fragile to be transported overseas. Boysenberries also had a shot availability season – they were only available from late May through early July, so boysenberries cultivation in California declined significantly.

Now boysenberries in the USA are grown by small farmers and can be found only on local farms and markets in California. Boysenberries are still grown commercially in the USA (Oregon), but they are processed into jams and syrups since they are too fragile to be transported fresh. Currently, New Zealand is the largest boysenberry producer and exporter.

Can You Eat Boysenberries Raw?

Just like most berries, boysenberries can be eaten raw – simply wash your boysenberries, and you are good to go. Actually, boysenberries are best eaten fresh as they preserve all their vitamins and nutrients.

Remember boysenberries are very fragile and won’t last longer than 2-3 days. If you bought fresh boysenberries and aren’t planning on using them in the next few days, it is better to freeze them or turn them into jam or juice.

However, in addition to being eaten fresh, boysenberries can be used in many ways. Let’s find out how.

How to Eat Boysenberries? What Does Boysenberry Pair Well With?

Boysenberries make delicious jams and juices. Boysenberries also taste great in pies (especially when combined with other berries like raspberries and blackberries. Boysenberries make pies soft and juicy and give a nice combination of sweet and sour flavors with subtle hints of bitterness. Boysenberries also taste good in tarts and custardy gratins if you like sour flavors.

Boysenberries taste amazing in smoothies – simply add a handful of boysenberries with your favorite fruits and berries, milk/yogurt, or maybe ice cream, and enjoy a refreshing drink! Actually, boysenberries can be used in any recipe that calls for raspberries, blueberries, or blackberries, including pies, jams, juices, jellies, loaves, tarts, etc.

Boysenberries can also be added to ice cream or combined with other fruits and berries like raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, and bananas. Boysenberries taste great on cereal for breakfast or on peanut butter sandwiches. Boysenberries also go well with nuts (especially walnuts and cashews) and, of course, honey.

Boysenberries Health Benefits

Boysenberries are jam-packed with vitamins and nutrients, including manganese, folate, vitamin K, C, E, iron, magnesium, potassium, and calcium. Boysenberries, like all berries, are also low in calories (one cup of boysenberries contains just 66 calories!). Boysenberries also contain a lot of dietary fiber and virtually no fat.

Now let’s see what health benefits boysenberries may provide.

A Source of Antioxidants

Boysenberries are jam-packed with antioxidants like anthocyanin, which prevents cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases. Antioxidants found in boysenberries also promote healthy bacteria, therefore, improving our gut health. Interestingly enough, the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry study concluded that boysenberries had the strongest capacity of absorbance of oxygen radicals.

Improves Lung Health

Boysenberries are rich in polyphenols, which provide inflammatory properties. According to the American Physiological Society’s 2016 study, Regular boysenberry consumption prevents asthma and other chronic pulmonary diseases as well as reduces tissue damage.

Good For Your Heart And Brain

Polyphenols in boysenberries stabilize blood pressure and maintain arteries healthy. Just one cup of boysenberry juice may help to inhibit endothelial dysfunction by 14%! Vitamin K in boysenberries also stabilizes blood sugar levels and improves brain function (boysenberries may help to prevent Alzheimer’s). Boysenberries juice also promotes learning skills and improves memory.

Excellent Source of Fiber

Like many fruits and berries, boysenberries are rich in fiber which maintains digestive health, reduces the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, and prevents cardiovascular diseases. In addition to these benefits, the fiber in boysenberries aids digestion and hence promotes weight loss. It is time to substitute your late-night chocolates with fiber-packed boysenberries, and it won’t be long before you lose some weight!


Boysenberries are rare delicacies as they are hard to find and difficult (if not impossible) to ship. Boysenberries are available only from late May through early July and can be found only on local farms in California or found in some fruit shops where they are exported from New Zealand.

Boysenberries are rich in vitamins and nutrients and have a unique sweet, tart, tangy, and spicy flavor and succulent texture. Boysenberries can be used in any recipe that calls for berries, including tarts, pies, jams, gratins, and smoothies, or added to cereal and sandwiches.

If you want to stay young and healthy, you’d better look into boysenberries – they are truly unique in terms of taste and nutrients. So if you are lucky enough to spot some boysenberries in a shop or fruit market, grab your chance and get some!

Boysenberry Taste FAQ

Are boysenberries sweeter than blackberries?

Boysenberries are sourer than blackberries. Ripe blackberries are sweet and tangy and have a succulent texture. Boysenberries are much sourer and tarter than blackberries and have weaker sweet notes.

Are boysenberries bitter?

Ripe boysenberries are not bitter but rather tart, tangy, and sour with subtle sweet and spicy notes. If your boysenberries taste bitter, they are most likely unripe.

How do you know when boysenberries are ripe?

Ripe boysenberries have an even dark red and even purplish color, are soft and juicy, and taste juicy, tart, and sweet. Unripe boysenberries are green, pink, or slightly red. Also, ripe boysenberries have a rich, fruity aroma.

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