Cape gooseberry (Physalis peruviana) is a species of physalis, the plant and its fruit. It is originally from Peru and also known as uchuva (Colombia) , Inca berry, Aztec berry, golden berry, giant ground cherry, African ground cherry, Peruvian groundcherry, Peruvian cherry, amour en cage (France, French for love in a cage), and sometimes simply Physalis (United Kingdom).
It is indigenous to South America, but has been cultivated in England since the late 18th century and in South Africa in the region of the Cape of Good Hope since at least the start of the 19th century.
Physalis peruviana is closely related to the Tomatillo and to the Chinese lantern, also members of the genus Physalis. As a member of the plant family Solanaceae, it is more distantly related to a large number of edible plants, including tomato, eggplant, potato and other members of the nightshades. Despite its name, it is not closely related to any of the cherry, Ribes gooseberry, Indian gooseberry, or Chinese gooseberry.
The fruit is a smooth berry, resembling a miniature, spherical, yellow tomato. Removed from its bladder-like calyx, it is about the size of a marble, about 1–2 cm in diameter. Like a tomato, it contains numerous small seeds. A prominent feature is the inflated, papery calyx enclosing each berry. The calyx is accrescent until the fruit is fully grown; at first it is of normal size, but after the petals fall it continues to grow until it forms a protective cover around the growing fruit. If the fruit is left inside the intact calyx husks, its shelf life at room temperature is about 30–45 days.
Using Cape Gooseberries
- The fruit is bright yellow to orange in colour, and it is sweet when ripe, with a characteristic, mildly tart flavour, making it ideal for snacks, pies, or jams.
- It is relished in salads and fruit salads, sometimes combined with avocado. Also, because of the fruit’s decorative appearance, it is popular in restaurants as an exotic garnish for desserts.
- The ripe fruit can be eaten out of hand or used in a number of other ways.
- The unique flavour 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”.
Cape gooseberries have many medicinal uses in many cultures and countries.
- In Columbia the cape gooseberry leaves are used as diuretics.
- In Zulu tribe the cape gooseberry leaves are used to improve abdominal conditions.
- Cape gooseberries are used to treat asthma.
- In South Africa cape gooseberry leaves are used as poultices on many inflammations.
Cape gooseberries have many health benefits.
- The vitamin C content of cape gooseberries helps improve the immunity system.
- Cape gooseberries also contain abundant amount of potassium which helps in controlling blood pressure levels.
- Cape gooseberries contain less calories and a kind of soluble fibre. This fruit is taken as dessert with cream or honey. The low calorie content helps in maintaining the calorie increase in that dessert.
- Cape gooseberries are high in vitamin C content also and are thus good anti-oxidants.
- Being a yellow fruit cape gooseberry, like other yellow and orange coloured fruits, are good for heart, immunity system, vision, and even helps in some types of cancers.