Thursday, October 11, 2012

All About Cape Gooseberry

Cape gooseberries are one of the easiest fruits to grow, as they adapt to a variety of climates and elevations. Countries have given the fruit various names, most notably husk cherry, goldenberry, and physalis. Confusingly, Indians call the fruit rasbhari yet it bears no relation to the similar-sounding raspberry.

Origin of Cape Gooseberry
Cape gooseberries originate in the Andean mountains of Peru and parts of Chile, although some botanists believe Brazil is their home. Its namesake, “Cape gooseberry,” came in the early 1800s from the settlers of the Cape of Good Hope. From South Africa, the fruit spread and naturalized in Gabon and through Central Africa. Australia also received cape gooseberries by way of South Africa, and the fruits continue to thrive there in abundance today.

Its arrival in Europe was marked in 1774, due to its appearance in England.

Cape gooseberries probably arrived to India by way of Rio de Janeiro, but the exact date is unknown. Reference books on India’s flora and fauna mention Physalis peruviana as early as the 1830s. Some of Cape gooseberry’s cultivars originated Asia, including beautiful Physalis alkekengi, also known as the beautiful papery Chinese lantern fruit.

Colombia and Zimbabwe dominate the world’s Cape gooseberry production: Colombia excels in its quality and quantity, and Zimbabwe’s advantage is its low freight costs. Several regions have since commercialized their production efforts: Malaysia, China, Hong Kong, India, parts of Caribbean, Peru, Brazil, Hawaii, Australia, and the south and east of Africa are a few.

South American countries tend to be net exporters of Cape gooseberries, whereas most European countries are net importers, including Germany, the Netherlands and the UK.

Availability of Cape Gooseberry in India
India’s gooseberry season is January through May, although the North’s season doesn’t start until February. In the North, cape gooseberries can grow at an elevation up to 4,000 feet, and in the South, up to 6,000 feet. Regions of India cultivating the fruit commercially are West Bengal, north India, and eastern India.

The perennial Cape gooseberry can grow wherever tomatoes grow In India’s southern hill countries.

Where to find Cape Gooseberry in India
Cape gooseberries grow wild along India’s roads, back yards and open fields with porous soils. The fruiting season lasts from February through May.

India’s commercialized efforts are concentrated in the north. In Delhi, for example, one finds gooseberries sold on ramshackle carts and offered on high-end hotel buffets. In the south, they’re a novelty found only select markets, or in villages. It’s hard to say why gooseberries are not more popular—they grow in a variety of conditions and can withstand tough shipping conditions.

Checking for Ripeness in Cape Gooseberry
Unripe fruits are green, and develop a golden orange hue when ready for consumption. When ripe, gooseberries should fall upon shaking the branches and will continue to ripen over the course of a few weeks. The size of ripe gooseberries varies considerably: Some large fruits become the size of a golf ball, while smallish ones only grow to the size of a marble. Look for fruits with a round, smooth and exterior and glossy sheen.

Note: unripe berries are toxic, and have caused deaths and illnesses amongst Australia’s cattle populations. Few reports, however, indicate that unripe fruits are severely toxic for humans. To err on the safe side, wait until the fruit is fully ripe before consuming.

Taste of Cape Gooseberry
The gooseberry is related to tomatillo, and shares similarities with its sweetish, tomato flavor. Gooseberries are mildly citrusy, tart, sweet and mellow with earthy undertones. Metallic notes also become present after eating one or two fruits. Just like tomatoes, gooseberries have many soft, edible seeds that don’t require removal.

The texture of a cape gooseberry is like a plum tomato’s—its juice explodes upon biting into the glossy, fleshy skin. Perfectly ripe fruits require no sugar, and some claim the sweetness parallels grapes.

Nutritional Value of Cape Gooseberry
According to the book, “Nutritive Value of Indian Foods,” 100g of Cape gooseberry contains the following values:

53 kcal
82.9g Moisture
1.8g Protein
.2g Fat
.8g Minerals
3.2g Fiber
11.1g Carbohydrates
10mg Calcium
67mg Phosphorous
2mg Iron
1428 ug Carotene
.05mg Thiamine
.02mg Riboflavin
.3mg Niacin
49mg Vitamin C
31mg Magnesium
.9mg Sodium
320mg Potassium
.19mg Copper

43mg Selenium

Health Benefits of Cape Gooseberry
Cape gooseberry’s high amount of vitamin A protects the eyes, maintains bone and skin health, prevents the formation of cataracts, and wards off macular degeneration. Cape gooseberries are also a great source of pectin, a compound critical for calcium absorption.

In Ayurveda, the book, “Encyclopaedia of Indian Medicine,” explains that cape gooseberries alleviate kapha and vata. They also relieve swelling and promote the appetite. The fruit also acts as a diuretic, laxative, and purgative. When mixed with mustard oil and water, the leaves cure earaches.

The Muthuvan tribes and Tamilian natives of Kerala have used the Cape gooseberry as a medicinal herb to ward off jaundice, the efficacy of which has been confirmed by conventional science. 

The scientific community has found the following benefits of Cape gooseberries:
--Researchers in Taiwan found that fruit extracts inhibit lung cancer cell growth
--Cape gooseberries have strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties
--A 2007 study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology found that compounds in the fruit have anti-hepatotoxic activities
--A report in the Journal of Food and Biochemistry reveals that Cape gooseberry juice regulates cholesterol levels and protects the liver from oxidative stress. The phytochemicals in the juice also show promise relieving the pain of atherosclerosis

Note: cape gooseberries are part of the nightshade family, and thus contain mildly poisonous alkaloids. Waiting until the fruit fully ripens reduces the amount of these poisons. If eating slightly undercooked eggplant elicits an allergic reaction, use caution when eating cape gooseberries.

How to Open/Cut

Cape gooseberries have a papery thin skin that resembles a paper lantern. To remove, grab the stem and twist—the thin shell should peel off easily once torn. Only husk the fruit when it’s ready for consumption. Without the shell, it deteriorates rapidly.

Store Cape gooseberries in the refrigerator, where they’ll last from 5 days to 2 weeks, depending on their ripeness and if their husk is maintained. Most fruits sold on the Indian market are sold without the husk.

If harvesting the fruits for long-term storage, pick semi-ripe gooseberries and keep the husk intact. Though the fruit will never be as sweet as it would have been if picked fully ripe, cape gooseberries will keep for two or three months when placed in a dry container. The key to preserving the fruits is dryness—if any moisture is present on the husks, then sun dry or lightly dehydrate to avoid fungal infections or rot. In cool storage of 2C, the fruits will keep for four to five months.

Cape gooseberries freeze well: store whole fruits in a freezer bag, where they’ll last for up to a year.

Cape Gooseberry Recipe Ideas and Uses
Cape gooseberries have many culinary applications.
--Make preserves and jams by boiling the berries with water, lemon juice, and sugar. Use a 1:1 ratio of fruits to sugar—300 grams of fruit, then, should have 300 grams of sugar.
--Reduce into compote: place cut fruits into a saucepan, and boil in water and sugar. Reduce to a simmer, and add arrowroot powder. Stir until the sauce is syrupy. Add oil until the desired thickness, consistency and richness is achieved. 
--Dip whole fruits in chocolate or toffee for a sweet/sour taste akin to chocolate covered cranberries. Serve with coffee, as is common in Europe.
--Make a tart filling: halved fruits can be added to the crust as-is, or, marinate the fruit in sugar overnight.  Caramelize the cape gooseberries to make a tarte tatin.
--Swirl the crushed fruit into ice cream batter for a zesty, sweet addition.
--Use cape gooseberries as you would cherry tomatoes in salads
--In South Africa, fruits are canned in syrup, and then exported.
--Dry the fruit in a dehydrator, or, cover with netting and sun dry—dried Cape gooseberries taste like raisins.

To enhance the fruit’s sweetness, prick the skin and roll in sugar: the fruits will absorb the sugar.

Note: Cape gooseberries do best in recipes where they’re the starring attraction.

Chocolate-covered gooseberries

Flavor Complements
Fruit: Tomato, tree tomato, tomatillo, butterfruit, orange, lemon, kumquat, passion fruit, pineapple, papaya, persimmon, sea buckthorn, tamarind, wood apple, apple, apricot, nectarine, strawberry

Vegetables: Potato, eggplant, bell pepper, corn, tomato, carrot, endive, celery

Herbs, spices, and oil: chocolate, orange juice, lemon juice, citrus zest, verbena, sugar, cream, vanilla, ginger, gingerbread, walnut, pecan, almond, cocoa, chili powder, Tabasco, tomato paste, cilantro, garlic, black pepper, green chili, achiote vodka, parsley, dill, mint, olive oil, mustard, vinegar, capers,

Random Facts:
Cape gooseberries are part of the Solanaceae family, which includes potatoes, eggplant, tomatoes, belladonna, tamarillo, poro poro, and even tobacco. This family also houses some of the world’s most poisonous plants.

75 variants of the berry exist worldwide.

Scientific Name:
Physalis peruviana
Physalis latifolia
Physalis puberula

Other Names:
Kuntali, Tankali, Tankasi (Sanskrit)
Macao, Tepariyo, Tipari (Hindi)
Budde hanu, doddabudd (Kannada)
Popti, chirbot, phopati (Marathi)
Milaku, takkali, pottipalam (Tamil)

Buddabusara, busarataya (Telegu)


  1. Hi, I'm from health industry as I sell fruit juices such as Gooseberry Juice, Goji Berry Juice, Mangosteen Juice and many other rare fruit juice, so I'm very health conscious and I always suggest to people to include green vegetables, fruits and organic food in their life.

  2. Very well written article, gave me everything I needed to know about Cape gooseberries, except propagation, copying below, what I found on another site.

    The plant is widely grown from seed. There are 5,000 to 8,000 seeds to the ounce (28 g) and, since germination rate is low, this amount is needed to raise enough plants for an acre–2 1/2 oz (70 g) for a hectare. In India, the seeds are mixed with wood ash or pulverized soil for uniform sowing.

    Sometimes propagation is done by means of 1-year-old stem cuttings treated with hormones to promote rooting, and 37.7% success has been achieved. The plants thus grown flower early and yield well but are less vigorous than seedlings. Air-layering is also successful but not often practiced.


  3. Dear all,
    Cape-Gooseberry (Physalis periviana) is endeavour herbaceous crop grown for edible fruit. The fruit is rich in vitamin A,B and C andpolyphenols can be eaten row, as a desert, an appetizer or used as dish decorator and in making jams, dehydrated products and slices.
    Its wide range of versatile adaptation, used for taste purpose and processing and increasing demand in exotic fruit market gains good prospects for the expansion of Cape-Gooseberry as new cash crop in temperate regions.
    More details:

  4. Wow!! What a information. Thank you! Thank You! Big Thanks to you!

  5. IS it commercially grown in India and where does it exported.

  6. Its extensively grown in India, especially in the North, its popularly know as Rasbhari (probably derived from Raspberry, though its totally not raspberry). Don't know about their export..

  7. good reading but where can i get cape gooseberry seeds if i want to grow them in my garden.reply

  8. You can buy them from online nurseries. They are out of season now, but the best source is the fruit itself, widely available as bunches of orange yellow berries. You can also get cuttings too.

  9. You can try this one:

  10. I have extracted seeds from the fruits. Which is best season for sowing.

  11. The fruit is in season; as such seeds are available. Germination needs around 20-30 degrees celsius soil temperature, so the time is now or if you miss this then in late September-October in North India.

    If temperatures dip below or go above the germination temperature, it would be ideal to sow the seeds in small seed containers around a quarter inch deep, so that they can be moved inside to manage temperature.

    As the seeds are very small, use a mix of soil, coir and a bit of compost (or a commercial potting mix), wet it and let it sit for some time. Sow the seed when the mix is still damp. This will ensure your seeds do not get buried as compared to when you use dry soil and then water it.

    Germination is a bit slow, you may need to wait for a few weeks to a month. At the seedling stage, don't put it in full sun; move it out gradually and then plant it in an open place with good drainage.

    By the way, where are yuou located?


  12. I am located at Meerut UP. I have already sown seeds and they have already germinated. I have also shifted them to independent pot. But I think it is late and it may not bear fruits.

  13. Can it be grown in Maharasthra..?

  14. In gujarati its called Parpota.Its rarely found in markets these days.

  15. Hi please
    I'm just starting to grow ground cherry
    Where to sell the fruits please

    1. I am planning to cultivate it in coastal andhra pradesh in black cotton soil. please advice if it is suitable and let me know if you have availability if seed.

  16. سلام بچه ها من می خوام فیسالیس تو ویلامون بکارم به نظرتون بذر فیسالیس موجود تو سایت بذر سرا برای این منظور مناسبه؟ بهشون اعتماد کنم یا نه. لطفا زودتر جواب منو بدین تا سریعتر نسبت به خریدش اقدام کنم و تا دیر نشده تو ویلامون بکارمش

  17. Really great uses of cape gooseberry! Good Job Buddy!

    Xcellerate 35

  18. What's the difference between Physalis peruviana and physalsis pruinosa ?