Clear Mountain Garden Treasures
 

Clear Mountain Garden TreasuresCulture and Germination - Cape Gooseberry

colder-areas
Areas with cooler winters, typically
south of the Bay of Plenty.
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Areas with cooler winters, typically
south of the Bay of Plenty.
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warmer-areas
Areas with warmer winters, typically
north of the Bay of Plenty, inclusive.
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warmer-areas
Areas with warmer winters, typically
north of the Bay of Plenty, inclusive.
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Cape Gooseberry

Ripe Fruit
Family Solanaceae
Name Physalis peruviana
Common Names Cape gooseberry, Ground cherry

 More pictures
More:
Cooking Cape Gooseberries
Cape Gooseberry and Cherry Tomato Conserve

Cape gooseberry is an unusual plant. Despite its name, it does not come from Cape and it is not a gooseberry (Ribes spp.). Instead, it comes from South America and is related to Chinese lanterns (Physalis alkekengi).

The fruits taste like a cross between a gooseberry, a tomato and a cherry! Well ripen fruits are very sweet, with a slight tang, but unripe fruit is poisonous. Like a Chinese lantern, the fruit is encased in the calyx, except that in cape gooseberries, the calys is green and not colourful. The calyx turns yellow, then brown when the fruit is ready.

Germination

Depth: ¼ cm
When: In colder areas, Spring under glass.
In warmer areas, Spring, Summer, early Autumn.
Where: In containers for transplanting later.
Use a mix made up of 1 part sand and 1 part ordinary seed raising mix
Germination rate is approximately 25%. Seed takes approximately 2 weeks to germinate.
Cape gooseberry seeds lose viability after about a year.

Culture

Poor sandy soil is best. If planted in too rich a soil, the plant grows lots of leaves and no fruit! Ensure there is a continuous supply of water. Plants will stop producing fruit if left dry. Do not apply any fertilizers.

In colder areas, mulch well and plant in a protected area. Alternatively grow as an annual. Start off early under glass and set plant out after the last frosts.

The seed is variable and some plants produce larger fruit than others. Grow more plants than is needed, and cull out those that produce smaller fruit.

The growth is somewhat like tomato and will need to be staked or tied to a trellis.

Self fertile and wind pollinated - give the plants a gentle shake once in while to ensure good pollination and even fruit size.

The fruits are encased in a green calyx that turns yellow then brown when ripe. Ripe fruit will drop when touched. Fruit that has fallen to the ground can also be picked because the fruit is protected by the calyx. The fruit keeps very well - more than a month!

The green unripe fruit is poisonous and should be left to ripen in their calyx until the fruit turns golden yellow.

 Cooking Cape Gooseberries

Cape gooseberry can be added to salads or made into jams and conserves. The fruit is very high in pectin and the jam sets very well.

 Cape Gooseberry and Cherry Tomato Conserve

   1 Kg    Firm (and slightly green) cherry tomatoes
   1 Kg    Ripe (and golden in colour) cape gooseberry
   Kg    Sugar
   4 cups    Water
   1 inch    Fresh ginger, grated
   2    Lemons - grate zest and juice
   1 teaspoon    Picking salt (iodine free salt)

Wash tomatoes and cape gooseberries, prick each one with the a fork in several places. Dissolve the sugar in water, bring to the boil and boil rapidly for 5 minutes. Add the fruits and cook for 10 minutes. Remove the fruit, and to the syrup, add the ginger, lemon juice ad zest, and salt. Simmer for 15 minutes and return the fruits. Cook a further 15-30 minutes until the syrup is thick and fruits transparent. Remove from heat at this point or syrup will start to caramel!. Turn into hot jars and seal.


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