Cape Gooseberries taste incredible: tart, sweet, so bright and tropical like citrus. Unlike Ground Cherries, their fruit does not fall on the ground when ripe. They are originally from Brazil but long ago naturalized in high-altitude, tropical Peru and Chile. They get this name from having been grown in the Cape of Good Hope, South Africa for a couple hundred years. In its native Peru, it is called "Aguaymanto" and "Uvilla". In France, it is sometimes marketed as “Amour en Cage” meaning “love in a cage”. In the US, it is often sold as “Goldenberry”, which is what it said on the plastic container of fruits in my friends’ fridge where I got these seeds from. I just loved them so much I had to grow them. While I love Ground Cherries, I think I prefer eating Cape Gooseberries. However, while their plants are much more sprawling and they are covered in fruit, they are a bit slower to ripen. This is a surprisingly good late summer treat!
Also known as: Coztomate, Coztomatl, Pogapoga, Topotopo, Peruvian Ground Cherry, Wild Tomato.
Days to maturity: 90-120
Seeds per pack: 40
Planting / harvesting notes
Sow indoors 1/4" deep at least a few weeks before the last frost date, and transplant in the garden in rows about every 18"-24". To encourage them to mature earlier, try starting the seeds extra early inside, 1-3 months before final frost. Plants will form blousy bushes like tomatillos. Keep well weeded until they fill in the space. Harvest when the husks turn tan/brown and the fruits are yellow/gold.
Seed keeping notes
Seeds are ready for harvest when fruit is ripe. You can remove seeds by hand, rinse, and dry. We use a blender on the lowest setting with plenty of water. When the fruits have been broken open, pour the mixture into a large container and add water. Allow the fruits to float and the seeds to sink. Pour off everything except the seed (you may have to add more water and repeat this process a few times) and then strain and rinse the seeds, and dry. However, you may never need to replant ground cherries after your first year - they tend to reseed themselves!