The Barberry (Berberis vulgaris) is a shrub of the family Berberidaceae.
The whole plant, except the fruits, contains alkaloids (including Berberine) which are not very toxic.
The golden yellow colouration of the section of stems and roots is due to the presence of berberine. The fruits, devoid of toxicity, are sometimes used to prepare jellies, jams or drinks.
Green berries are used with hot sauces and roasted meats as they come from their tangy taste.
The red fruits are cooked in jam. Iran is a major producer and consumer of dried barberry berries
“Berberis vulgaris” grows in the wild in much of Europe and West Asia.
It produces large crops of edible berries, rich in vitamin C, but with a sharp acid flavor.
In Europe for many centuries the berries were used for culinary purposes in ways comparable to how citrus peel might be used.
The country in which they are used the most is Iran, where they are referred to as zereshk in Persian.
The berries are common in Persian cuisine such as in rice pilafs (known as zereshk polo) and as a flavouring for poultry meat.
Due to their inherent sour flavor, they are sometimes cooked with sugar before being added to Persian rice.
Iranian markets sell zereshk dried.
In Russia they are sometimes used in jams (especially the mixed berry ones), and extract from them is a common flavouring for soft drinks and candies & sweets.