Cape gooseberries (Physalis peruviana) are not something you’re likely to find in the grocery store. The plant is native to Peru and Chile, and has been introduced into most temperate and tropical climates around the world as a fruit for home gardens. It has been only sporadically commercially grown, however.
The fruit’s flavour defies categorisation. It is like a sour grape crossed with a tomato—not entirely surprising, as it is related to tomatoes. The initial sensation is the sour, and then they leave a lingering fruity tomato flavour in the mouth.
Cape gooseberries grow reasonably well here—some years they grow too well, actually. I’m still learning how to use them and how to enjoy their odd flavour. This year we got only a handful, as I wasn’t able to water them as much as they needed in this hot, dry summer.
Their tartness goes well in jams, chutneys, pies, and fruit salads. They’re also good eaten right in the garden—the papery husk acts as a handle, so you can snack on them even with hands dirty from gardening!
In temperate climates they are an annual, though here they often overwinter, if the weather is mild. In tropical climates they are perennial.
They’re definitely a plant to try, if you’ve never grown them.