Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Discover Gooseberries

Have you tried a Cape Gooseberry? A little orange fruit the size of a cherry tomato with a sweet, grape-like tang, it’s in season from early summer until early August. The fruit is so beautiful that a couple of centuries ago in Peru, it was perfumed and worn decoratively. Nowadays it’s eaten raw or dried, made into jams, sauces, and chutneys, and cooked in desserts.

After flowering, the calyx of the plant forms a husk that acts as a natural wrapping for the berry. It's toxic and shouldn’t be eaten, but the husk allows gooseberries to stay fresh at room temperature for three months or more.

Though native to South America, It earned its name when it was cultivated by settlers on Africa’s Cape of Good Hope in the early 1800’s. In the U.S., you're most likely to find it in Pennsylvania Dutch country or parts of the Midwest.