"Self-sufficiency does not mean 'going back' to the acceptance of a lower standard of living. On the contrary, it is the striving for a higher standard of living, for food that is organically grown and good, for the good life in pleasant surroundings... and for the satisfaction that comes from doing difficult and intricate jobs well and successfully." John Seymour ~ Self Sufficiency 2003

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Cape Gooseberries

I learnt my lesson last year when my tomatoes got blossom end rot.  This year the soil has plenty of calcium :)
My first harvest of cocktail tomatoes
My cocktail tomato plants (more like bushes) are all producing madly - all of the cocktail tomato plants are self-seeded from last year.  The large heirloom tomatoes are a bit slow - but I don't mind as we have more than enough to keep us going at the moment.  I would also prefer them to ripen closer to winter - that way I can use the Rosie to preserve them.  I battled initially to get them to grow - well, that and the ruddy slugs kept eating them...
I saved all of the shells from the eggs we ate
over the past year...
 ...even though they had a good border of crushed egg shells. 
...and got RMan to crush them with his great
clodhoppers, before sprinkling them generously
on the soil around the tomato plants.
In my crop rotation, I decided this year to
grow my tomatoes in our repurposed
tyres - filled with alpaca poo.  They are
working a treat - the plants are all huge
and doing very well :)
As I was harvesting the cocktail tomatoes I passed a self-seeded Cape Gooseberry bush which is growing next to my shadecloth veggie hut and noticed that the time (and fruit) was ripe.

S'funny, I don't often see anyone else mention growing gooseberries - they are dead easy to grow, and provide a wonderfully tart jam / sauce.

So, for those of you who don't have gooseberries in your garden, here's some info.

Aha!!  I spy ripe gooseberries
It is easy to spot the gooseberries which are ripe.  The outer sheath / capsule turns brown and dry.  Harvesting gooseberries involves grabbing the capsule between your fingers and gently pulling - the fruit easily parts from the capsule
The capsule on the unripe gooseberries is green
Unripe gooseberries are in the green capsules - it won't take long for them to ripen.
Enough gooseberries in my bowl to make some
gooseberry sauce
Remove the remaining, stubborn capsule(s) from the fruit...
The gooseberries sans the capsule
...give the fruit a quick rinse...
Gooseberries are high in pectin and don't take
long to soften
...pop them in a pot with some water and sugar, and in literally 10 - 15 minutes, you have a perfect sauce to dribble over your ice cream.  I didn't measure the quantities, as I was making gooseberry sauce to put on ice cream after dinner. The sugar was added to taste.

Gooseberry sauce, and jam, are a sweet but tart treat.
The seeds inside the gooseberries are very fertile
 and produce offspring easily.  In fact, if you don't
keep an eye out, they can become a pest
I love the delicate, flimsy and extremely fragile capsule that enfolds the gooseberry - it becomes paper thin and crisp as the fruit ripens.  I know I can use them for some craft - I just need to put my thinking cap on... :) 
I wish the gooseberry capsule was
a tad bigger.  There is a craft out
there somewhere which would benefit
from the gooseberry capsule :)
If the capsues were bigger they would make adorable tea light candle holders I reckon.


Leigh said...

Your gooseberries look like our husk tomatoes (Physalis philadelphica). Our gooseberries are Ribes uva-crispa. I've not grown either so I can't compare! I've been looking at gooseberries for our forest garden hedgerow but don't think they'll fare will in our summer heat.

Dani said...

Leigh - This particular gooseberry bush is not on irrigation, doesn't get watered as much as it probably should, but it still survives and produces fruit. We are currently (and will continue to do so through February and most of March) experiencing temperatures in the mid-to-upper 30's, so I don't think sumer heat affects them :)

Kev Alviti said...

I was thinking of growing some of those gooseberries this year but I wasn't sire hpw they'd do outside.my mum grew them in the greenhouse once but didn't have much of a crop.
As for your collected eggs do you do anything to them before storing them as I like the idea of having a tub we cuck them into. I've just been put off by the extra effort that some people goto when tthey bake them in the oven first. Did they smell at all?
Kev x

Kev Alviti said...

Also do you grow those gooseberries as an annual like I'd have to over here?
Sorry for all the questions!

Dani said...

Kev - Cape Gooseberries are a berry and are perennial. I just prune them every spring.

Nope - all I do is crack the shell, use the egg (fry, poach, scramble, baking) and chuck the shells in the tub. There is no smell, and the "lining" quickly dries out as it is exposed to the air. All you are left with is the calcium rich shell to use when required.

KISS (keep it simple, stupid) :) Why make work / use energy if it's not required?

Shrimpton and Perfect said...

Quite envious of your lovely bright and colourful produce. The weather in Britain is dark and gloomy, and the garden looks a mess at the moment. i miss the sunshine this time of year, so have started planning our Sicilian holiday so i have something to look forward to.


Chickpea said...

All looks wonderful, I just have a few stalks of chard left in my veg patch, roll on spring. I would love to grow cape gooseberries.

Sue said...

You'll have to start selling alpaca doo.....sounds like some good stuff!

Sol said...

I know then as Physalis as one of the comments said before. My gran used to call them chinese lantern fruit. They used to use some thing similar in the war as christmas decorations. they are all night shade plants apparently.

I know that galio grosso grows in the uk just needs plastic in the winter to keep the frost off

Frugal in Derbyshire said...

I have grown cape gooseberries in the greenhouse alongside tomatoes and tomatillos, some years ago now and they didn't do very well. Chinese lanterns are inedible.
I put all my egg shells in a an old baking tin, which I put in the oven when it is on. This makes them easier to crush and gets rid of any food content that might attract rats. I put the cold shells in an old bread bag and crush them with a rolling pin and then save them in large sweet jars.
Your tomatoes are just starting while we have just finished the last of our refrigerated ones. It will be at least 6 months before we have a fresh tomato
again - what a depressing thought!
Have a great summer Dani

Harry Flashman said...

I have never heard of gooseberries, maybe they don't grow here?

Dani said...

Jean - Without the dark and gloomy how can one truly appreciate the light? ;)

I, too, miss my garden in winter, but console myself that it is having a very well deserved rest before it has to work like mad the next season. Then, it doesn't seem so bad :)

Dani said...

Chickpea - You're waiting for Spring, I'm longing for autumn / winter. Our heat is hectic already...

Dani said...

Sue - Oh, if you only knew ;) Why not see if there isn't anyone near you who breeds alapcas?

Dani said...

Sol - I only know them as Cape Gooseberries, and yes, they do look very different to the other gooseberries - the translucent ones.

Dani said...

FiD - Yeah, they're not a very prolific fruiting plant, but is is worth the effort. I love sweet tart tastes :)

I let my egg shells dry in my garden room - which the mice can't access.

Think of that first bite into a fresh tomato in May / June. It's not so far away...

Dani said...

Haarry - I have no idea either. Perhaps you could ask your local garden centre?

Diana Studer said...

yes Physalis. That Cape is not local, not the Western Cape, but named for the husk that capes the fruit.

Dani said...

Thanks, Diana. Husk also sounds more apt than capsule ;)

Leigh said...

I appreciate the information. So many good things to learn.