Cape gooseberry called Physalis peruviana, a plant species of the genus Physalis in the nightshade family Solanaceae, has its origin in Peru, coming from the nightshade family Solanaceae, grows wild across the world in temperate and tropical regions like southeast Asia. As a perennial, it develops into a diffusely branched bush reaching 1–1.6 m in height, with spreading branches and velvety, heart-shaped leaves. The fruit is a round, smooth berry, resembling a miniature yellow tomato 1.25–2 cm wide. Removed from its calyx, it is bright yellow to orange in color, and sweet when ripe, with a characteristic, mildly tart tomato flavor.
When can I pick it?
The goldenberry has many harvests in a season. Flowering can last up to 75 days after seeding, and the first harvest usually occurs up to 100 days after that. It takes months for the fruit to ripen. When it does, it will produce fruit for up to three years, but after the first year, the fruit is usually smaller. Some fruit will fall to the ground, and if still in the husk, it will remain edible up to several days.
The fruit is harvested when it falls to the ground, but not all fallen fruits may be in the same stage of maturity and must be held until they ripen. It may take some experience to tell when the calyx-enclosed fruits are fully ripe. Properly matured and prepared fruits will keep for several months.
The plant has many uses, jams being one of the best, and for centuries, people have used it as a diuretic and also as an antiasthmatic treatment. In South Africa, they grind the leaves into medicine for inflammation. In Australia, they use the leaves for enemas for abdominal relief in children. Cape gooseberries have medicinal as well as nutritional value.
- Rich in Vitamin C : good for the skin and the immune system
- Rick in Vitamin A and iron, which improves eyesight and immunity
- Controls high pressure
- Rich in calcium and phosphorous, helping bones strength and to manage rheumatism and dermatitis
- Rich in fiber (fructose), can help control diabetes
- Helps digestion : Pectin and fiber help calm disturbed gastro-intestinal tracts
- Anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant
How can I cook it?
The unique flavor of the fresh fruit makes it an interesting ingredient in salads and cooked dishes. Cape gooseberries cooked with apples or ginger make a very distinctive dessert. The fruits are also an attractive sweet when dipped in chocolate or other glazes or pricked and rolled in sugar. The high pectin content makes cape gooseberry a good preserve and jam product that can be used as a dessert topping. The fruit also dries into tasty “raisins”.