Like mini orange tomatillos, Cape Gooseberries are a curious little fruit that deserve your undivided attention. A delicate, lantern-shaped papery husk surrounds a glossy golden-orange fruit that looks much like an orangey cherry tomato and tastes like a tropical combination of tomato and tart pineapple. It has a juicy pulp with many tiny edible seeds.
The Cape Gooseberry goes by several other names around the world, including Golden Berry, Husk Cherry, Physalis, Peruvian Ground Cherry, Strawberry Tomato and Poha Berry. Originating in South America, Cape Gooseberries are grown around the world, including Colombia, Chile, New Zealand and Hawaii (where they are known as Poha Berries).
There are two stories behind their “Cape” name. One is that they were cultivated by early settlers at the Cape of Good Hope on the southern tip of Africa. The other is that their papery husk resembles a little cloak or cape. The “Gooseberry” part of the name is also peculiar, as Cape Gooseberries are not related to the European gooseberry. Actually, Cape Gooseberries are a closer relative to the tomato or potato, as a member of the Solanaceae family.
To enjoy a Cape Gooseberry, simply peel away the papery husk and eat the shiny orange fruit fresh, or use to make jams, jellies and a variety of sauces, both sweet and savory. Another popular use is to dip them in chocolate or use to decorate cakes.
If you happen to find these lovely fruits at your supermarket, you will be glad to know that unhusked, the berries will last up to four weeks in the refrigerator (spread in single layer, unwrapped).
Did you know that Cape Gooseberries are great on the grill? Check out this simple recipe for grilled tropical fruit kebabs!