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Golden Berries

Category: Garden Highlights | Posted: Sat Aug 20, 2011 12:27 pm

I've tried growing physalis before, with little success. It is a plant called Physalis edulis, Ground Cherry or Cape Gooseberry, that produces delicious berries about half-an-inch across in neat paper lanterns.

Previusly, I ended up with a greenhouse border full of tall, sprawling plants that gave disappointingly few fruit.

However, I'm always a sucker for something new or unusual, so when I spotted that Thompson and Morgan were selling a variety called Golden Berry 'Pineapple', that they described as 'A dwarf Golden Berry with branching stems and a bushy habit' and claimed it would give me 'Huge crop of fruits throughout late summer/autumn' I could not resist!

And their description is accurate, except for the flavour. They are supposed to taste of pineapple, but noone in my family thinks they do. But they are delicious, even the not-quite-ripe ones.

I grew five plants outside, and five in the greenhouse: this is a plant growing outside:

Physalis plant ( photo / image / picture from OrangeKing's Garden )

The ones in the greenhouse are much taller, up to three feet, and do sprawl a bit, but they have a much larger crop. Even so, the outdoor ones are well worth growing.
In fact I had so many, I made jam...

Physalis berries ( photo / image / picture from OrangeKing's Garden )

Physalis jam ( photo / image / picture from OrangeKing's Garden )

T&M don't tell you, but the way to harvest them is to collect them off the ground when they have fallen. This is not easy with sprawly plants, so next year I plan to grow them in the greenhouse, and tie them ruthlessly to a framework of netting so that they are in a single plane, parallel to the glass. That way, they should take up much less room, and harvesting should also be much easier.

Oh, and I didn't kill the bay tree (see previous blog) as I had half feared. It's producing lots of new shoots. I just hope they toughen up enough before winter!

Pruned bay tree showing regrowth ( photo / image / picture from OrangeKing's Garden )

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Frank wrote on Sun Aug 21, 2011 10:49 am:

I would like to taste that jam. I am a sucker for all types :)


Miss Liberty wrote on Sun Aug 28, 2011 2:19 am:

I'm with Frank. I love trying new jams, and I've never heard of golden berries or gooseberries. Are they tart? Sweet?


OrangeKing wrote on Sun Aug 28, 2011 10:41 am:

It's impossible to describe tastes and smells! However, they are sweet, a bit like tiny tomatoes in structure, but with a much more subtle taste.
You'll have to grow them yourself to really find out!
The jam is very nice on home-made scones, with lots of clotted cream.


Karrma wrote on Mon Aug 29, 2011 2:37 am:

Its a lot of work to husk those groundcherries. When we were given a box of these, sieved the seeds out before making the jam, as the seeds are fairly large, similar to the cloudberry from Sweden.

Do you do any winterizing around your bay tree? Is that a Laurel nobilis, true bay? I am afraid to keep mine outside in winter, we are in 8a region.


OrangeKing wrote on Mon Aug 29, 2011 5:14 pm:

Husking would have been a lot of work, but this was just a trial run, with only a half-pound. As you can see, I left the seeds in and they have all floated to the top! And yes, cloudberry is a good comparison - the jam is fairly similar, too.

I believe the bay is a Laurus Nobilis - we use it quite a lot for cooking - but it takes it's chances in the winter. I'm near the east coast of the UK (I think the region is 8) and bays in this area seem to have no trouble outside.

Of coursel with all that young growth it may be a different story! I'll let you know next Spring.

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