Inca Berry

December 02, 2007 By: erik Category: Food, Weird 3,758 views

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For our dinner party with Marga’s coworkers last night, Marga was tasked with making desert. She made a wonderful cheesecake and another pudding-based pie with fruit on top. Sorry, no photos of the desserts. When we were at the store trying to find berries (preferably straw- or rasp-), we found these strange yellow fruits labeled “Phisalis”. The true name is physalis, and for some reason the Spanish name changes the ‘y’, which would be pronounced the same in Spanish, and keeps the “ph” which doesn’t have any business in the Spanish language at all. They are strange little berries, shrouded in golden leaves. My favorite of its alternate names is “Inca Berry”, which sounds like a character in a children’s book. Another name, Cape Gooseberry, sounds like where Inca and his friends might get into all kinds of adventures.


One in its little leafy prison, and one that I liberated.

Physalis (open)

Freeing the golden orb.

Unknown to the guests (they are native to South America), we received comments such as, “Did you put cherry tomatoes on the pie!?!?”

Strange fruit is fun.

  • I think I’ve had these and they’re mighty tasty.

  • They’re pretty. I was going to say they look an awful lot like tomatillos, but I see from the Wikipedia entry that they are indeed closely related.

    What do they taste like?

  • It’s pretty close to a kiwi, but a little more tart.

  • Oh! These are ground cherries. I think these used to grow wild out in the mountains. They may still do so. I don’t know how a fruit native to South America ended up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia though. Then again, I suppose that isn’t really that big of a leap.

    Also, a few weeks ago I bought a mixture of strange fruit (quince, prickly pear, and a couple of others)for the weekly Sunday dinner. We decided they’re strange fruit for a reason.

  • Prickly pears, called higos chumbos (horrible figs), are all over in the southern part of Spain where my in-laws are from and where we go in August. They are definitely odd. Photos here and here.

  • Guy

    I know these as cape gooseberries. My wife and I used to grow them commercially in South Africa. They make great jam & also gooseberry crumble – same recipe as for apple crumble. Coincidentally, last month I bought some land near Villanueva de la Vera and was thinking of growing them there.

  • axic

    Are these nightshades?