History & General Information
The decorative Chinese Lantern is native to Southern Europe through Japan, but it is South America Physalis varieties that first became significant as food and are now grown in a number of countries.
The Peruvian Ground Cherry was being grown as a crop in South African by 1807. Still a commercial crop there it is used for canned fruit and made into jams. Now carrying the name "Cape Gooseberry", it was carried to New Zealand and Australia and is grown on a fairly large scale in both those countries. It is, however, still very rare in North America.
The Tomatillo, on the other hand, doesn't seem to have caught on much outside the Americas, but it's so common here it's even sold by the big supermarket chains - though you'll find far better prices at local and ethnic markets.Varieties
Cape Gooseberry - [Peruvian
Ground Cherry, Golden Berry, Uchuva, Inca Berry; Capuli, Aguaymanto,
Tomate Sylvestre, Uchuba (Peru); Capuli, Motojobobo Embolsado (Bolivia);
Uvilla, Uchuva, Vejigón, Guchavo (Colombia); Capuli, Amor en Bolsa,
Bolsa de Amor (Chile); Topotopo, Chuchuva (Venezuela); Cereza del Peru
(Mexico); Physalis peruviana]
Native to Chile and Peru, this nightshade berry is now most noted for commercial production in South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. It is an incidental crop in South America and so far rarely seen in North America. Cape Gooseberry can be grown most places where tomatoes can be grown but warmer is better since the plants can take only a couple degrees of frost. Mature fruits are between 1/2 and 3/4 inches diameter.
The main commercial uses of Cape Gooseberry are as canned fruit and for
making jam, but fancy restaurants often use whole fruits as an exotic
garnish. In homes they are made into pies and are eaten whole as fruit.
The berries, left in their husks, store well, over a month in cool dry
conditions.Caution: unripe fruit are toxic so eat no green berries.
Photo by Flapdragon contributed to the public domain
[Mexican Green Tomato, Mexican Ground Cherry, Husk Tomato, Jamberry,
Tomate de Cascara, Tomate de Fresadilla, Tomate Milpero, Tomate Verde,
Miltomate, Physalis ixocarpa alt Physalis philadelphica]
Tomatillos are native to Mexico and were well developed as a crop by the Aztecs. Our first evidence of cultivation is from around 800 BCE but it was probably grown far earlier than that.
Tomatillos are harvested when medium to light green and used at that stage of ripeness. The variety commonly sold in Southern California is yellow when fully ripe but there are varieties that ripen to red and purple. Much used in Mexican green sauces tomatillos are both tart and sweet. There is no satisfactory substitute.
The photo specimens are typical, averaging around 2-1/4 inches diameter
and 2-3/4 ounces, but they can be much smaller in some markets. The largest
I've seen was 3-1/3 inches diameter and 6-5/8 ounces.
Details & Cooking..
Chinese Lantern -
[Bladder-cherry, Winter Cherry, Japanese Lantern, Hozuk (Japan),
Native to the Old World from Southern Europe to Japan, this Physalis has
not been used as food, at least in modern times. It is a common decorative
plant and can tolerate much colder winters than most Physalis can.
Photo by TeunSpaans licensed under
Free Document License v1.2 or later.