Friday, February 5, 2010

cape gooseberry, goldenberry, poha, husk cherry

I  some how managed to have a few of these plants wind  up  in my gardens a few years back  and since then  they have become a mainstay in our garden beds. Here in the states they are not all that well known but resemble the japanese or chinese lantern plants. Most often the lanterns stay a pale beige/ yellow hue. The fruits within the small husk are when ripe an opaque orangey yellow color and contain oodles of tiny seeds. When not ripe they are green in color and poisonous. Within the paper husk is a lovely little fruit. Some say it is much like a muscadine, some say a tomato flavor. The only taste Ii can describe it as is a tomato crossed with pineapple flavor. I dunno but dang they are good.

The fruit is a close relative of the tomatillo and potato plant therefore they are part of the nightshade family(unripe berries are green in color and can cause sickness and the plants are poisonous, so dont eat the plants) it is often called a Cape Gooseberry. It is also sometimes called Husk Cherry, Peruvian Ground Cherry, and in Hawaii, Poha or Poha Berry. The Latin name is Physalis peruviana.
information on this plant

Native to Brazil, the plant now grows wild in much of South America and Hawaii and is cultivated in many temperate regions, including South Africa, where it has long been popular. This plant does well in unfertilized and poor soil types and can become invasive so plant accordingly. It is commonly used in jams and sauces, but can also be eaten fresh.

When the fruits ripen they generally will begin falling to the ground and will continue to ripen within there little husk. To harvest simply scoop them up. If you would like to store them for a while leave the fruits in the husk and they will store much better.

The fruits are good to eat plain, in jams and jellies or dipped into chocolate. They are excellent in a "fool" as well. Because of the piquant flavor they also go well with some meats and can be made into chutneys and added to salsas.

Here are a few recipes i have tried all of which I like quite well. There are a few others I have run across but as yet have not tried. These fruits are high in pectin therefore no pectin is required when making a jam . Nutritionally they are very high in vitamin c.

1 lb Gooseberries
3/4 lb Sugar
Stem n peel cover from berries and wash . Drain. Add sugar. Heat very slowly in a covered container until juice begins to form. Mash the fruits until you have them at the consistency you wish (i like chunky bits) Uncover and boil until juice sets when tested. Let cool a little then bottle in warm jars and seal.

1 pt berries, stemmed
Sugar to taste
2 - 3 tablespoons Water
1 cup Heavy cream, whipped
Put the berries in a saucepan with 1/4 cup of sugar and the water. Cook very gently until the berries are thoroughly done and soft enough to mash. Put them through a sieve or food mill and add sugar to taste. Fold the gooseberry puree through the whipped cream. Chill for several hours, before serving.

4 lb berries
3 Medium sized onions
3 cups Brown sugar, tightly packed
1 1/2 cup Cider vinegar
1 1/2 cup Dry white wine
1 cup Seedless raisins
1 teaspoon Salt
2 teaspoon Dry mustard
1 teaspoon Ground ginger
1 teaspoon Turmeric
1/2 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
Wash the berries . Chop or grind the berries and onions together and place them in pan with the remaining ingredients. Cook this mixture uncovered over low heat, stirring frequently, until it thickens, about 2 hours. Ladle into hot, sterilized jars and seal immediately.


  1. Raised these one summer in CT, whole family liked them - kids so much that the only way we had them was fresh!!

  2. I love being able to take the kiddies on a lunch hike around the homestead. Just go and let them pick their own lunches..

  3. We call them ground cherries and love them! We like them best fresh in salad.

  4. yum never tried them in a salad. hopefully next year mine will do better than they did this year.. didnt get a one.. too dry and they all fell off before ripening.. we also call them ground cherries

  5. Any idea where one would buy the seeds for this lovely jewel? I've looked all over BC and I can't find any nursery who sells them.

    1. What I do is that I save on a few from this year's harvest and dry them out. In the Spring I grind them between my thumb and fingers and spread them on the soil and cover with a thin layer. Do not disturb, but try and weed out any known invasive weeds.

  6. thought they were tomatillos, then remembered I planted goldenberries....they are great!

  7. I'll definitely try all those recipes that you can do with golden berries...Good thing Hidalgo Foods is always handy for my supplies of berries...