Friday, December 30, 2011

Gooseberries


There were gooseberries in the garden I grew up in, in Bloemfontein. A big bush, hung with little lanterns. There are always gooseberries in plastic clamshells at Woolworths, in Cape Town.

My mother has always loved them. I have not. Tart. Puckery.

Then I discovered two leggy gooseberry bushes growing in pots next to the swimming pool here at No. 9, and I could not resist picking a handful of white papery husks, indicators of the ripe fruit. I ate one. It was big and plump and deep orange. And sweet. Not even a hint of acidity. Big surprise.


So now I want my own gooseberry bush. To join the miscellany of edible plants amongst the satellite dishes on the Brooklyn rooftop. Because I have seen the light.

10 comments:

  1. Those are way different from the hairy berries what we call gooseberries (like these: http://s3.hubimg.com/u/321242_f520.jpg)- those look more like what we call ground cherries. They grow like weeds around here, which is great since they're so tasty.

    It's funny how common names differ from place to place. If you buy a bush, make sure to see pictures first so you get the kind you want!

    --Jennie

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  2. Glad you said pointed that out, Jennie. I've never seen gooseberries, so my first thought was, "So those are gooseberries; I always thought they were ground cherries." We had them in Indiana; my father used to mail them to me here in NYC. Now I will have to pester Marie for them (or try to grow them myself).

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  3. Those are cape gooseberries. They are related to tomatillos. True gooseberries are related to currants.

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  4. Jennie and Nora - these are Cape gooseberries, also called ground cherries, yes, in the US. Sorry only to have used the common name - Physalis peruviana. Not from these parts, clearly, but cultivated for a long time.

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  5. Which begs the question ... can we actually get them in the U.S.?

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  6. webb - I have never seen them sold in the States. Funny how they just took off, here, as a commercial crop (and in England).

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  7. Did I give you a jar of ground cherry jelly? I made a batch this fall w/a sprig of lime thyme in each one. I confess, I didn't grow them myself this year; I bought them at the Farmers' Market in Barryville. Are they perennial in Capetown?

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  8. Ellen - so you did buy them at a farmers' market? Interesting. No, you gave us wild cherry, rowan berry and ornamental quince :-) Yum. I brought the wild cherry here and rowan here. Both delicious, the rowan with a distinctly bitter side taste, not at all unpleasant- never had anything like it. We had it at Christmas with roast lamb. Vince has the quince, to console him.

    And yes, they are perennial here, but possibly short-lived.

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  9. I know them as Cape Gooseberries. For some reason, they were particularly popular back in the days of nouvelle cuisine. They appeared everywhere. I always remember them as being tart except for the occasional sweet one.

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  10. Also called husk cherries, you can get them from Johnny's Selected Seeds. Easy to grow.
    http://www.johnnyseeds.com/p-5883-goldie-og.aspx

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