What’s a Golden Berry?!

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My first introduction to the golden berry in Ecuador was in relation to chocolate. I can’t complain, as I quickly realized it was a sweet little nugget that tastes incredible when coated in dark Ecuadorean chocolate. It’s also commonly found in juice form.

Goldenberry enjoys economic importance due to its richness in nutrients and its related medical benefits, which is especially relevant to the jam and juice industries. Ecuador and Colombia produce the largest amount of the world’s goldenberry, though England also cultivates a large proportion of it. Peru, Nigeria, and South Africa are also important contributing producers, the latter inciting greater English consumption due to successful crops in the 19th century.

Goldenberry, a fruit originating in the tropical highlands of South America, is gaining popularity in the culinary world for its rich vitamin content. Goldenberry was first domesticated in its native regions – the tropical highlands of Peru, Ecuador, Chile, and Colombia – during pre-Incan times. Although the goldenberry is now grown in different places throughout the world, its natural habitat is still considered subtropical mountain regions.

This marble-like fruit is not actually a part of the berry family but instead belongs to the tomato family, a close relative of the tomatillo.


 

Health Benefits of Goldenberry

Goldenberries possess the following traditional medicinal uses:

  • Killing intestinal parasites. This widespread indigenous use of goldenberry is thought to be connected to the plant’s tannins.
  • Soothing the symptoms of rheumatism. Carotenoids, flavonoids, and polyphenols in goldenberry have anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Relieving dermatitis. This traditional use may be related to goldenberry’s vitamin C content.
  • Managing diabetes. Preliminary research shows that goldenberry may be able to help reduce blood glucose levels.
Goldenberry juice.

How It Works

Goldenberry’s polyphenols possess antioxidant properties. Goldenberry also contains melatonin, which can promote sleep. The plant may also be able to help lower glucose levels, though results are as of yet insufficient.

Main preparations: Raw, dried, powder

Nowadays, goldenberry is primarily consumed as a food product enjoyed for its taste and nutritional value, as its medicinal uses are typically limited to indigenous peoples. The berry’s tart, acidic taste is not agreeable to all, but many enjoy it in small amounts. It has become an important ingredient in gourmet desserts in Peru and other parts of South America. The main forms of goldenberry include:

  • Raw. Especially in its native regions, goldenberry is consumed raw, whether alone or in a fruit salad.
  • Dried. Outside of South America, goldenberry is often consumed dried because it is easier to transport and store while still making a good snack.
  • Powder. Goldenberry powder is typically used to supplement smoothies and cereals.

Goldenberry is a fruit that requires subtropical climates. However, it is not affected by daylight duration. Despite this, temperature and light are essential to determine nutrient levels. Around 24 – 31 inches (600 – 800 mm) of precipitation is needed annually in order to satisfy the crop’s requirements, and the most sustainable altitude for growth is between 5,905 – 9,185 feet (1,800 – 2,800 m) above sea level. Goldenberry is tolerant of poor soils and prefers a pH ranging from neutral to slightly alkaline (5.6 – 7.8). It can be propagated from seeds or cuttings.

The goldenberry plant, which can grow up to 24 – 36 inches (90 – 160 cm) tall, has round, yellow and red blooms that eventually form a calyx. The green calyx opens to a round, yellow-orange fruit when its petals dry out and become a brown husk that surrounds the berry.

Goldenberry is used as an ornamental plant or a garnish for dishes because of its curious calyx and bright color. Indigenous women in 18th-century Peru used the fruits to make perfume.

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