The Cape Gooseberry
A biological cousin of the tomato, this gooseberry looks like a small yellow cherry tomato that’s covered by a brown husk, that looks like a chinese lantern. With a sweet pineapple-like flavour, the fruit (also called Inca berry or ground cherry) is native to South America. In the 16th century gooseberry juice was used in the treatment of fevers. We are fortunate enough to have this super fruit growing in South Africa. It grows in a straggling bush up to one metre tall that bears yellow fruits inside a brown papery envelop and is perennial.
High in protein, this berry also contains vitamins C, A, a few B vitamins as well as iron, potassium, niacin, magnesium, calcium and zinc. A recent Brazilian study found it’s a good source of carotenoids, which may help protect against cancer and heart disease. Gooseberries also have pectin which assists with digestion, lowers cholesterol and prevents the increase of glucose levels in the body, making them the perfect snack for people who are sensitive to glucose.
How to eat them
The berry is the size of a cherry tomato, is very aromatic and full of tiny seeds. Eat Cape gooseberries as a refreshing fruit snack, toss in fruit salads, a smoothie or juice using the Vitamix or Oscar. Put some berries, which you have dried yourself in the dehydrator, into trail mix. Gooseberries are also delicious added to green salads and go well in savoury dishes. When purchasing them, choose nicely coloured, firm fruit with no blemishes. They will keep in the fridge for up to three days. Wash only when about to use. Gooseberries freeze best whole and should be used when still partially frozen.
How to grow gooseberries
Best months for planting Cape Gooseberry in South Africa – Semi-arid regions
July – plant undercover in seed trays
August, Sept, Oct and Nov – Transplant seedlings