Thanks to my Grade Six ‘scary berry’ training, which taught me to never trust a wild berry, not once have I strayed from the safety of the familiar strawberry, blueberry, blackberry or raspberry bush. Despite tempting, vibrant-coloured berries bursting from shrubs, with branches reaching over fences as though they were beckoning, ‘pick me, pick me’, I never took my chances with the unknown. But perhaps if I’d seen something as intriguing as a cape gooseberry growing in the backyard, I might have thrown caution to the wind. Resembling a tomatillo, the cape gooseberry, also known as physalis or golden berry, is wrapped in a thin, papery husk or ‘cape.’ The protective pod helps provide the golden berry with a shelf life of more than a month at room temperature, and also serves as a unique garnish for desserts as well as savoury dishes. Inside the cape, the bright orange fruit has the texture and appearance of a small cherry tomato, lightly coated with a sticky residue that easily rinses away. In one little bite, the golden berry fills your mouth with a unique taste combination of a sweet and tangy strawberry-flavoured tomato. The tiny, edible yellowish-orange seeds that dot the inside of the fruit are crunchy, but soft and unobtrusive. While cape gooseberries are a wonderful treat eaten fresh on their own, they can also spruce up fruit and green salads, and are delicious canned, sundried, dipped in chocolate or made into jam. Despite the name, cape gooseberries aren’t really gooseberries at all. Instead, they are related to the tomato, potato and eggplant. Native to South America, cape gooseberries grow wild in Brazil, Colombia, Chile and Peru. During the 1800s, the South African region of the Cape of Good Hope began cultivating the golden berry, perhaps lending the name ‘cape’ to the fruit. Today, many tropical and subtropical areas grow cape gooseberries for commercial use. Not only are golden berries rich in carotene, phosphorous and iron, they are a good source of vitamins A, B, and C. And if that isn’t enough reason to go wild over cape gooseberries, they also have anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties in addition to being very low in calories.
You are here: / / / Honk If You Love Gooseberries