By Katherine Tallichet

The uchuva berry is packed full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.  Unlike other supposed superfruits, the uchuva is available fresh and tastes great.  Grab a handful of delicious uchuvas and treat yourself to a nutrient-dense, low calorie snack that comes in its own packaging.

The uchuva is also known as the Cape gooseberry, physalis, golden berry and Inca berry.  It’s a small fruit up to an inch in diameter and comes in a papery sheath that looks like a tiny lantern.  Uchuvas are yellow or orange when ripe and contain lots of seeds.  They are sweet and tart at the same time, tasting somewhere between a ripe tomato and a pineapple.

Because uchuvas come in their own casing, the berries are free of pesticides and chemicals.  A serving of uchuvas weighing 140 grams contains only 74 calories but contains 20 percent of your daily vitamin A and 26 percent of your daily vitamin C.  Uchuvas also have B vitamins,
calcium and iron.

Uchuvas are rich in melatonin, an antioxidant hormone that may protect against degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.  The fresh berries are believed to be anti-inflammatory, and also contain withanolides, which have anti-carcinogenic properties.

Uchuvas are tropical but come from high-altitude areas of Peru and South America.  This means that you can grow your own uchuvas easily during the summer.  Plant the tiny seeds in a pot of damp compost during the spring.  Keep it on a sunny windowsill until the plants appear.  Put your uchuva plants into the garden or on a windowsill once the last frost has passed.  Choose a sunny spot with open soil.

Uchuva plants only need to be watered if they start to wilt, and produce plenty of fruit even in poor quality soil.  Harvest ripe fruit as they drop of the plant, about 80 days after planting.  Expect fruit in the late summer and into the fall before the plants die as soon as they are exposed to frost. 

Uchuvas are sweet and tart at the same time and taste somewhere between a ripe tomato and a pineapple.


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