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In the kitchen

The shining orange fruit, like Chinese lanterns, packed in brown petals, is a delicious delicacy. The aroma ranges from pleasingly sweet-sour to fruity. The aftertaste reminds one of gooseberry and pineapple. The soft fruits are tasty on their own, in a fruit salad or even a green salad, with muesli and yoghurt but also as jams and compote. They are suitable for tarts, muffins, pancakes and panna cotta. Chocolate fondues are also delicious with these berries. Pureed physalis makes a delicious sauce for sweet and savoury dishes. It is best know as an edible decoration – in a glass of sparkling wine, punch, cocktails and desserts, for example.


Origin and appearance

Physalis, also known as Andean berry (Physalis peruviana), originated in the highlands of Peru and Chile. At the beginning of the 19th century, the fruit reached South Africa and the Cape of Good Hope where it was so widely grown that it gained a second name – Cape gooseberry. Physalis belongs to the family of nightshade plants and is closely related to the tomato and potato. Once the flower is pollinated, the delicate petals form a lantern-shaped cup in which the fruit can grow well protected. Physalis is ripe when the berry is orange-yellow and the petals turn brown.



Before eating, one removes the brown petals. The berries are carefully washed to remove the sticky outer layer. The thin fruit skin and the small soft seeds are edible. Physalis can be purchased all year round but the main season is between November and June. Look out for quality when buying. The berries should be firm and golden yellow to orange in colour. But they shouldn’t be crinkly. Berries with dark brown leaves are no longer fresh. Stored in the fridge, this exotic fruit can be kept for a number of days.


Growing physalis yourself

You can grow these Andean gooseberries in your own garden provided it’s warm and sunny enough. The plants are happy in quite poor soil. They can grow up to 1.5 metres high and will need to be staked or supported on a trellis. Harvest time is from August to October. Don’t confuse the Cape gooseberry with the Chinese lantern (Physalis alkekengi), also known as the Bladder cherry. This is an ornamental flower with inedible fruits.

Heike Kreutz, www.aid.de