Saturday, September 12, 2009

Poha/Cape Gooseberry

Many people seem tuned into ground cherries or husk berries, gooseberries, or the poha. Whatever variety you may have tried or be referring to, at Tierra the Poha, or Cape Gooseberry is grown each season.

These little garden berries are a wonderful treat mixed within a field of vegetables. Easy pickings during a time of heavy harvest, the berries which are protected and contained within a husk that looks something like a Chinese lantern, will fall straight to the ground when ripe and ready to consume.
To the right here is a look at the plant growing-if you go seeking it in the fields it is immediately south of the chiles, towards Airport Boulevard. It is very tall and shrub to tree-like, therefore proving it is in fact not a "ground cherry." This plant grows tall and wide and sprawls, undoubtedly needing more space than most home gardeners might plan. Related to tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers in the nightshade plant family; the plants are most closely related to tomatillos and resemble them quite a bit, husk and all. The taste? It is fruity, unique, one must try to even begin to understand. So try one this season.
Here is what you are looking for and, of course, the crew at Tierra will only bring the ripe and ready berries to market for you. The little berry is golden in color once you probe inside it's brown husk. It contains little seeds like a cherry tomato and if you really have some time and skill on your hands you could save these seeds for future crops of your own. The possible culinary uses range from a great alternative to high calorie snacks before dinner, a great base ingredient for a unique jam or chutney for holidays gifts, a fruity alternative to cherry tomatoes in your salad, and more....

Here is your source for a more detailed summary of additional aspects of this plants and fruit including history, origin and growth specifics. There is lots to learn about our food, as usual, and thankfully, lots of new foods to learn about. I run into so many great vegetables all year long in my farm foodie world, it is a great benefit and so much fun to pass along to others. The flip side of this is the disappoinment it brings when I am forced into a grocery store these days and discover the limited selection and quality, or the marketing ploy knock-offs of some of the unique specialty items I have encountered in the small farm world. It is trivial to decide what to buy, what to eat, what is true, and I'm pretty well educated on the topic. What about all those other folks? I'm skeptical. Grow your own, let Tierra grow for you, enjoy real food while it is in season. You are going to find superior flavors and something that is always in abundance, even if it is dried beans in the middle of winter. Thank goodness there is a time to enjoy beans when there aren't so many other fresh vegetables demanding to be used up! Now I got lost off on an Eat Local tangent on this post, but it is always worth while to make mention of this way of life.

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