Saturday mornings mean my usual pilgrimage to the San Francisco Ferry Building Farmers Market. I try to go early, before the bulk of gawkers and tourists arrive, but I usually get there just as everyone else does. And truth be told, I don’t really mind. I wander happily through the crowds, Blue Bottle cappuccino in hand, and gawk. This weekend, as Andy stopped off to buy some Fava Beans, I strolled over to Tierra Vegetables to
gobble taste some of their famous pepper jams. The jams were as good as ever, but as I made my way from the Mystery Pepper Jam to the Chipotle Jam, I caught a glimpse of what looked like little gold tomatillos. When Andy and I tried them, we found them to be more fruit than vegetable – sweet and tangy, a little like a gooseberry. I was so enamoured, I thought I’d enter them into this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging event, hosted by Susan at The Well Seasoned Cook.
It turns out that, while the fruit is a close relative of the tomatillo and part of the nightshade family, it is often called a Cape Gooseberry. It is also sometimes called Husk Cherry, Peruvian Ground Cherry, and in Hawaii, Poha or Poha Berry. The Latin name is Physalis peruviana.
Native to Brazil, the plant now grows wild in much of South America and Hawaii and is cultivated in many temperate regions, including South Africa, where it has long been popular. It is commonly used in jams and sauces, but can also be eaten fresh.
Chocolate Dipped Cape Gooseberry
According to the friendly folks at Tierra Vegetables, this is a common preparation in France. The golden husks make for a beautiful presentation.
1/2 lb Ripe Poha/Cape Gooseberry
8 oz dark chocolate
Pull husks away from berries, but leave them attached to form a handle for holding and dipping. With a damp paper towel, gently wipe the berries clean. They must be completely dry before dipping in the chocolate. In a heavy pan, melt chocolate over low heat, stirring constantly. When chocolate is fully melted, dip berries until they are about 2/3 covered. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and allow to harden. Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate.