© Denzil Green
Cape Gooseberries grow inside husks that look like little lanterns, as Chinese Lanterns do, and many people think they are the same plant. They are not, but they are kissing cousins. The difference is that the fruit of the Cape Gooseberry plant (Physalis peruviana) has flavour, whereas the fruit of the Chinese Lantern plant (Physalis Alkekengii) is said to be completely tasteless. If your "Chinese Lantern" plant fruit is tasty, then what you have is actually a Cape Gooseberry plant. Both are in fact related to tomatillos.
The plants will grow anywhere, and are very productive bearers.
The berries inside the husks are small, round fruit, about the size of marbles or cherries. They have smooth, waxy skin that ripens from green to orange or yellow. Inside, the fruit is sweet and juicy, with many small yellow seeds. Sometimes some berries may have a slightly bitter aftertaste, which plant breeders are trying to breed out. The berries must be harvested in the fall before any frost: frost makes them go mooshy and horrible.
They are shipped to market with lanterns intact to help them ship better. The fruit inside can sometimes be sticky, but that is fine. Occasionally, you find a bad berry inside. Sometimes, a berry may be covered with a black mould like soot -- this can be washed off and the berry is fine, though it's an unpleasant surprise when you first open the husk.
These berries are not actually related to gooseberries at all. There is a movement to rename them to Goldenberries, so watch out for them under that name. Look for them under names such as Inca Berries when dried.
Good source of vitamins A and C, thiamine, niacin, and vitamin B12
Under commercial ventilation, with the husks intact and the fruit just slightly immature, they can be stored up to 6 months. However, as consumers, we can keep them for up to 3 days in our refrigerators.
Cape Gooseberries can also be dried.
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