• 06Jul

    Who would have known that on that fateful day four years ago throwing down a few cape gooseberry seeds would mean a battle of epic weedy proportions. Yes, that first year a plant or two came up. I thought it would be oh so novel to be the first on my block to have a cape gooseberry plant. Cape Gooseberries seemed so rare (not to be confused with just plain ol’gooseberries) – especially when as the forager for a restaurant in San Francisco I was given the task to come up with pounds of it each week for a very delicious dessert the chef came up with. I scoured every farmer’s market until I finally found the one farmer in Northern California who had them. Victory. Never mind that this was years ago and I no longer worked at said restaurant. Somehow, like a poor easily imprintable pup or I suppose more like a brainwashed glassy eyed Stepford wife I had to have them. Hey, it was a stressful job!
    So in other words, I didn’t have a plan for all the cape gooseberries that would soon grow into my possession.
    Well, that first year I had bags upon bags of gooseberries… stored in my freezer. I even tracked down the chef and gave her bags of frozen gooseberries for which she didn’t really have a use for anymore. I finally found a use for them and incorporated them into 12 quarts of gooseberry barbeque sauce which I gave away as holiday gifts. To which I got a curious “What kind of Barbeque Sauce?”
    Ok, so I was over it – it was cheap therapy! I realized I was a victim of my own eccentricity and maybe a bit of post traumatic stress. I got it out of my system. I didn’t need to have these obscure berries that no one knows what to do with anymore. I happily ripped out the gi-normous plant. However, no one told me that within each berry there were thousands of tiny seeds.
    The next spring there were millions of cape gooseberry seedlings popping up all over the garden. In hindsight it wasn’t such a good idea to play fetch with the dog whilst tossing the gooseberries all about. Anyway, I resigned to my fate and pulled them out handfuls at a time. Finally after a few years I figured I had a handle on the seedlings and slowed down on my vigilance .
    2004. Tomatillos – now that was a nice crop to have for chile verde sauce and green salsa. I didn’t bother to pull it out last fall and it seemed to do fine through the winter. More salsa this year.
    This Spring I was walking through the garden and noticed the distinct aroma of Cape Gooseberries! Agh! I looked carefully at the tomatillo plant and it had morphed into a Cape Gooseberry plant. They happen to be in the same plant family and look identical. Ugh, outsmarted by a damn berry! Well, too busy to do anything about it – the plant grew and grew and gooseberry after gooseberry was produced.
    One day a month or so ago my brother’s visiting Korean in law was out in the garden picking the gooseberries. Wow, maybe there is some wonderful Korean recipe! Excitedly, I asked her what she did with them and she said “Oh, I don’t know but as kids we would make whistles out of the husks.  Bummer.
    Then last weekend, the SO decided to pick a grocery bag of them. The aroma filled the kitchen. SO said, “What’s good to do with them?” I said “Uh, I don’t know. They’re high in pectin and vitamin C, how about putting them in your smoothies?”
    I’d been feeling adventurous lately so decided to surf the web for Cape Gooseberry recipes and turned up with only two! only two in the whole wide world! Well, besides my famous Gooseberry Barbecue Sauce.
    So tonight I made Almond and Cape Gooseberry Torte. The batter was very stiff and I had my doubts but SO declared “I like it” and proceeded to have another slice. Now my brain is working overtime…hmmm, how about Cape Gooseberry Scones? or Cape Gooseberry Pancakes? Or Pan Roasted Duck with Cape Gooseberry and Orange Sauce? Strawberry Shortcake with Cape Gooseberry Sauce…I could go on and on but will spare you the Forest Gump.
    Anyway, that’s how I became the Gooseberry Fool…


50 Responses

  • Thanks J Hall for the recipes! I love rice pudding and will try them out.
    Hey Chet, I don’t have any FOL’s around but next time I’m at the mall I’ll check it out! Come to think of it I think I do remember some golden fruit…
    Charlie, sorry I didn’t call – not use to getting comments so just checked tonight. I have what I consider lots of gb’s but not nearly 100 lbs. Plus I’m afraid I’m short on time to pick them these days. you should see the zuchinni out there – I’ll need a fork lift…
    Thanks for the comments!

  • if you’re not aware of it already, the fruit of the loom logo features grapes, an apple and none other than CAPE GOOSEBERRIES!! (without husks) check your undies – i swear!

  • I have the following receipes for Cape Gooseberries if you would like them.
    Rice Pudding with Cape Gooseberries
    Preparation time: less than 30 mins
    Cooking time: 30 mins to 1 hour
    1 cup arborio rice (risotto rice)
    50g/2fl oz unsalted butter
    150g/5fl oz caster sugar
    1 vanilla pod, split
    5 cups milk
    2 cups cape gooseberries (physalis)
    sugar syrup
    Crème fraîche
    1. Remove the papery husks and poach the gooseberries by bringing them to a very gentle simmer in the sugar syrup (equal parts caster sugar and water). Remove them from the heat and allow them to sit in the hot syrup until they are soft and the skins just start to break.
    2. Melt the butter in a heavy-based pan. Add the rice and stir to coat.3. Add the sugar, vanilla pod and milk and bring gently to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer 30 to 35 minutes.
    4. Add the gooseberries to the rice.
    To serve
    Separate the pudding between four bowls and serve with a scoop of a crème fraîche.
    Chocolate Coated Cape Gooseberries
    Preparation time: over 2 hours
    Cooking Time: less than 10 minutes
    1 packet cape gooseberries
    225g cherries with stalks, washed
    100g block of quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids if possible) broken into pieces
    1. Line a baking sheet or tray with greaseproof paper.
    2. Heat some water to boiling point in a saucepan.
    3. Place the chocolate into a large heatproof bowl and place it over the pan of boiling water. Make sure the base of the bowl does not come in contact with the water. Stir until the chocolate is melted.
    4. Expose the berries of the cape gooseberries by pulling back the papery skins.
    5. Hold onto these papery skins and onto the stalks of the fruit, and dip each piece of fruit into the melted chocolate. Place them onto the greaseproof paper and leave to set in a cool place for 2 hours.
    6. Serve with after dinner coffee.
    Any kind of soft fruit can be used, such as, strawberries, cherries (stones removed) etc. An assortment of fruits would be very tasty.
    Frosted Fruit Cake
    Preparation Time: less than 30 minutes
    Cooking Time: No cooking required
    1 plain iced fruit cake
    2 egg whites
    55g castor sugar
    1 bunch mint
    selection of fruit, e.g. cherries, grapes, cape gooseberries, figs
    1. Cut the figs into quarters and brush with egg white
    2. Brush the remaining fruit and mint with the egg white and dust with castor sugar.
    3. Top the cake with the sugared fruits and serve.

  • Please call me at 360-885-4545. I’d like to talk to you about buying cape gooseberries. About one hundred pounds per week. Thanks, Charlie

  • Trader Joe’s now carries unsweetened dried Cape Gooseberries. I love dried fruit and had never tasted a dried Cape Gooseberry so I bought a little bag. What a wonderful taste! After enjoying the delicious tartness of just a few, I wondered where these had been my whole life. My wife spit hers out, but I’ve sinced bought more for a trip. I was just looking online for any information I could find about these not so delicately flavored berries when I ran across your story. Thanks for the entertainment and for generating at least another recipe.

  • Loved your story! Years ago, my husband and I attended an “Heirloom Tomato”seminar, and were introduced to the lowly Husk Cherry.I was instantly addicted!!! Like you, planted them, couldn’t get rid of them, then didn’t know what the heck to do with the results! Eventually they went away, but I still remembered fondly.I too saw them dried at Trader Joes, and HAD to buy them!! But again, what to do? I really don’t use a lot of sugar, jams, or such,and husk cherry jelly was all I could find by way of recipes. Good to know I’m not alone.

  • Essential trouble-free garden plants from my Australian childhood – lemon tree, parsley, mint, a pumpkin vine, a choko vine (chayote), a passionfruit vine, a mulberry tree, and cape gooseberry bush/es. What to do with the gooseberry? eat it fresh with icecream or on breakfast; stew it gently (with lemon rind plus or minus your favourite sweet spice e.g. vanilla bean or fennel seed) for an alternative breakfast topping, or combine with whipped cream/lemon juice/crunchy topping for dessert; make a sweet pie with the fruit; make jam; make gooseberry butter (like lemon butter, just adapt the recipe with a bit of experimentation). Actually, it was difficult to collect enough to cook since we all snacked straight off the bush as soon as berries ripened …. I am so tickled pink to find cape gooseberries grow in Maine!

  • Hello I would like to buy gooseberry if any interest please call 240 354 3729 ask for Martha
    Thank you!

  • hi just planting these myself, and have never tried them but found a great site for recipies
    www. edible.co.nz/recipes/capegooseberry.htm
    hope it helps!

  • Thanks Kate! Most of the crop this year is going to a dear friend who can’t get enough of them fresh off the bush. If I can gather up enough I will try out some recipes.

  • Hi Karla,
    I originally got my seeds at a local nursery. If you google ‘cape gooseberry seeds’ a number of mail order sources come up. Also, if you purchase some fresh gooseberries, you can probably start some seedlings from those. Cheers! Sandy

  • Please, i need to buy gooseberries as a gift for my boss…she eat it once and love it but we could not find anywhere here in Texas that sales the fruit…Please, e-mail me @ miriamgr@hotmail.com…i will be waiting ansiously for your answer.

  • Cape Gooseberries are a favorite fruit in Colombia, where they are called Uchuvas. Over here in Rhode Island, I’ve been trying to get a crop, but the growing season is apparently too short. I can get the plants to grow and start fruit, but by the end of September the fruit are still too small and green to eat. After two years of spectacular greenery and no yellow fruit, I’m giving up. I’d love to have your problem, as would the large Colombian community here.

    If you can handle recipes in Spanish or have someone who can translate for you, googling “uchuvas” will give you a number of tasty recipes from Peru and Colombia. Uchuva tart is a traditional dessert that preserves the freshness of the uncooked fruit, like other fruit tarts that combine a baked shell with a cooked custard filling and the raw fuit. As you now know, cooking the fruit changes the flavor radically. However, dulce de uchuva or mermelada de uchuva are traditional desserts that might help you with a large volume of fruit:

    Uchuva marmalade:
    1 pound fresh uchuvas
    1 cup white sugar
    3/4 cup light brown sugar
    1 shot rum
    1 stick cinnamon
    2 whole cloves
    Zest of 1 orange

    Mix all the ingredients together in a covered container or mixing bowl. Using the cover or plastic wrap to seal it, and leave it in the refrigerator for 24 hours. After this time, put it all into a saucepan on medium high heat. Once it boils, lower the heat to medium and cook 30 minutes more. Remove the cloves and cinnamon.

    You may can the result using the standard canning method or keep it in the frige and use the marmalade within two weeks. It is a bit more like a sauce than a jam, so it is excellent on pancakes, toast, or ice cream.
    If you can it, you can give it away for gifts!


  • Check out The Jamlady Cookbook (Pelican Publishing) for preserves recipe for Gooseberries and just about any other fruit.

  • According to my local Trader Joes in Annapolis MD, their supplier has discontinued handling the dried cape gooseberries. Terrible news! I loved the ones I got there. Any other sources for these?

  • Thanks to Chandoso for the recipe and Marge for the cookbook reference.

    Sorry I don’t know where you can buy dried gooseberries. If you really want to have them you can grow a plant and dry them. I may try that this year.


  • Hi Sandy:

    I need one or two pounds of cape gooseberries for a recipe for a luau on Tuesday, July 31. If you have the time and the berries, I’d be happy to compensate you for the berries, your time, and FedEx shipping.

    Reportedly cape gooseberries are used in Hawaiian cuisine. They appear to be used in salads and relishes. The recipe I plan to fix is the following one, adapted from “Sam Choy & The Makaha Sons’ A Hawaiian Lu’au — Recipes, Music, and Talk Story,” by Sam Choy (Mutual Publishing, Honolulu, 2003.)


    Marinade and fish
    1/2 cup crushed macadamia nuts
    1/2 cup soy sauce
    2 tablespoons honey
    1/4 cup granulated sugar
    mahi mahi filets

    Poha, Mango, and Papaya Relish
    1/2 cup medium-diced mango
    1/4 cup medium-diced papaya
    1/4 cup poha berries, cut in half
    1/4 cup small-diced red pepper
    2 tablespoons small-diced yellow onions
    2 tablespoons minced cilantro
    1 tablespoon lime juice
    2 tablespoons granulated sugar

    — Mix relish ingredients together and chill for one hour before serving.

    — While relish is chilling, light coals on a barbecue grill.

    — Mix marinade ingredients together and marinate the fish for 10 minutes.

    — Optional: Spray a fish-grilling basket with Pam or oil for easier clean-up.

    — Place the fish in the grilling basket and grill for 2-3 minutes on each side.

    — While the fish is grilling, filter the marinade through a strainer. Discard the liquid and reserve the crushed macadamia nuts.

    — Sprinkle each piece of fish with reserved macadamia nuts from the marinade and serve with a dollop of relish on the side.

  • P.S. In Hawaii, cape gooseberries are called poha berries. (The “a” in poha has a horizontal line over it, which I cannot easily reproduce here.)

  • We grow Cape Gooseberries/Ground Cherries every year and sell bushels of them weekly at local farmers markets. We keep seeds, and start plants in our greenhouse. They’re the best thing ever! Educating and sharing recipes with customers has proven to be so entertaining. When a new customer tries an ugly leaf berry – their face lights up! Some of the recipes we’ve come up with are: Pineapple upside down cake with ground cherries, pork roast in a crockpot with ground cherries, pancakes, muffins, in a leaf salad, in a fruit salad, stir fried with hot peppers (helps with the heat). I hardly ever get to cook with them as I sell out every week!
    Come visit us in Southern Wisconsin! I believe I can ship ground cherries if anyone wants some.

  • Where can I get cape gooseberries…unsweetened and dried? Trader Joes discontinued them (grrrrrr) and I’m having withdrawals …..

    Please help


  • Where can I buy fresh gooseberries – in bulk – I would like to make jam to sell any ideas from anyone ?please help, am getting at my wits end.

  • My husband picked up a couple bags at Trader Joes and used them in a unique and tasty way. He added them to pot roast, stews and spaghetti sauce. They add a nice tart and slightly sweet punch. Sorry to hear TJ’s is discontinuing them. I’d like to grow them, but will be cautious after reading your story!

  • When I was in Colombia many years ago I was sampling the different jams and jellies there. Uchuva jelly was there and it was awesome. I had forgotten about it for awhile and decided to check it out. Turns out it is another name for cape gooseberries. The jelly is delicious. I still have the jar it came in so I know the manufacturer if anyone would like to know. Joe

  • Last weekend I picked about 2 gallons from my three bushes. This year they are really be attacked by the mites. I’ve tried soap, water, neam oil, and nothing seems to work.

  • Please help!!! I am searching high and low for fresh cape gooseberries. All I can find are seeds and plants, but I need them ready to eat. Does anyone know where to buy them fresh?

  • Cape Gooseberry is also known as Inca Berry. According to David Wolfe they have more protein than Goji Berry, 16% as opposed to 14%. Whole Foods sells them raw dried.

  • I would like to buy 5-6 bushes (of 1.5 to 2 feet tall) of Cape Gooseberry (COMPLETE plants, with everything from its root to leaves, fruits, etc.); fresh or dry, doesn’t matter. I need it soon. Please call me at 765-418-9872. Thanks.

  • Cape Gooseberry Flan.

    Make your usual sponge cake flan base.

    Simmer gooseberries in water and sugar to taste until cooked. Remove berries from the cooked liquid. Reduce the liquid if necessary and thicken with cornflour. Return the gooseberries to the liquid. Cool, and then fill the flan case with this mixture.
    When cold top with sweetened whipped cream – ENJOY!!!

  • I did have a chuckle when I read your story about the cape gooseberry plants growing all over the place as I also found that out myself and am forever plucking them out of the garden. I have often wondered what I could make with the cape gooseberries. The gooseberry barbeque sauce sounds good. Is that a secret recipe or do you share it?

  • I have the problem with Cape Gooseberries popping up everywhere in the garden and sure there must be a savoury recipe out there. Would love to try a chutney or sauce recipe if anyone has one.Please contact me houhorahaven@ubernet.co.nz. Would really appreciate this

  • Hi, great read. I’ve just started to harvest my cape gooseberrys (in new Zealand) and am really interested in trying the gooseberry barbeque sauce.
    Would you consider posting the recipe on this page.

    In hopeful anticipation

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