The Incan delicacy that thrives on neglect
Part of the James Wong Homegrown Revolution Range.
Very easy to grow. Chances are you may well have seen this South American delicacy garnishing expensive dishes in posh restaurants, or in small, very pricey packets on the supermarket shelves! If so you would be forgiven for thinking this glamorous fruit is far too high maintenance to grow on UK soil. Origin: South America. Latin name: Physalis peruviana.
Delicious and ornamental. Individual berries wrapped in a Chinese lantern. The Incan delicacy that thrives on neglect, giving fresh berries right up until Christmas. Tastes like: Gooseberries, kiwi, pineapple, orange.
Recognisable in patisseries or indeed many cocktails, these shiny golden berries, each wrapped in its own paper Chinese lantern, are one of the trendiest garnishes around. Also known as the Cape Gooseberry (although it originates from highland Peru), the golden berry, or simply by its genus name ‘Physalis’, these sticky amber balls have a rich flavour of ripe gooseberries with a hint of tropical fruit, followed by a pleasant bitter sweet aftertaste. Sow: February-April. Harvest: August-October.
EATING: From late summer and early autumn the plants should come into a heavy crop of brown papery lanterns, which have the convenient habit of falling off when they are ripe, meaning there is none of the agony about when is exactly the right time to harvest, the plant does it for you.
They taste great as they are, or as an interesting ingredient in smoothies, salads and salsas. Their flesh also has a high pectin content so they are perfect for making thick chewy jams, chutneys and preserves. In fact these berries were once widely grown by the Victorians as a popular fruit, who called them “Tipparees”. Even Mrs Beeton had a recipe for a sticky, sweet jam made out of them!
Enclosed in their own little package, the fruit have an impressive shelf life - the longest of any berry - staying fresh for up to 3 months in the fridge! Create a fascinating (and let's face it unashamedly kitsch) Christmas cake decoration by rolling the berries in edible glitter. A delicious summer berry that looks wonderful, costs a fortune to buy in supermarkets, thrives on neglect, and you can eat all the way up to Christmas, what could be better?
Buttered Inca Berry & Pineapple Jam - A Beetonian favourite that’s wonderful on wholegrain toast, baked into jam tarts or truly sinful atop a rich vanilla cheesecake. Makes 1 jar.
• 200g Inca Berry fruits cut in half
• ½ tsp butter
• 100g caster sugar
• ½ cup pineapple juice (or water if you don’t want to distract from the flavour of the inca berries)
METHOD: Pop all the ingredients in a pan and simmer over a medium heat for 15-20 minutes stirring occasionally. After simmering you should have a pan of soft, wrinkly-skinned fruit in what looks like a disconcerting amount of liquid. Don’t worry this will soon thicken in the next stage.
Mash the cooked inca berries in the pan with the back of a fork and whisk this mix briskly with the fork to combine the mashed fruit with the syrup. Alternatively you could also give it a quick blitz with a sti
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Resistance to Disease:False
Aftercare - Easy:True
Aftercare - Moderate:False
Aftercare - High:False
Full growing instructions given on packet. In fact, the Inca Berry is remarkably easy to grow; just like tomatoes, excpet less demanding!
Grown just like a tomato, sow the seeds 13mm (½") deep in a shallow tray of compost in a propagator or on a sunny windowsill at 15-18°C (60-65°F). Germination 20-40 days. Transplant seedlings into individual 7.5cm (3") pots and keep in a sunny warm spot indoors. Plant outdoors in late May or after all risk of frost has passed spacing each plant 50cm (20") apart. Just like tomatoes the Inca Berry plant loves to bask in a sunny spot with well drained soil. 1 plant per grow bag or a collection of 30cm (12") pots on the patio are equally as effective. The Inca Berry will thrive outdoors and there is absolutely no need to prune or train. Watering and feeding now and again is all that is needed to maintain a healthy Inca Berry plant. Free from the risk of pests or disease, keep on top of watering and the Inca Berry is happy to get on with the job - producing berries by the punnet load. Sowing: February-April. Cropping: 20-24 weeks.