By: Marlene Affeld ~
Golden Berries, also marketed internationally as Cape Gooseberries, golden dewdrop, Incan Golden Berries, Uchava berries or Picchu berries, have been a highly priced fruit since the early Incan civilization first tasted their sweetness. Native to the mineral-rich mountain soil of the Peruvian Andes, organic golden berries are one of the lost crops of the Incas, cultivated at the ancient mountain top citadel of Manchu Picchu.
Used mainly as a staple food source, the fruit of the golden gooseberry could be enjoyed fresh from the plant or dried as a staple for later consumption. Some Incan tribes dried and ground the berries into a fine flour to make a soup or mush. Other tribes employed extracts made from the inner bark of the golden berry bush to make a drawing poultice for treating open sores or infectious wound.
Growing the golden orbs at just the right altitude is crucial. Fluctuations in temperatures between night and day regulate the sweet flavor of the fruit. Fertile soil, ample rainfall and sunshine give life to sturdy, low-growing bushes that grow like wild vines with tiny heart-shaped dark green leaves. The fresh fruit presents an appearance similar to a yellow grape, delicately encased in a papery husk resembling a Chinese lantern. New plants are started from seeds or cuttings from semi-hardwood in late summer.
The papery calyx enclosing each berry remains until the fruit is fully grown, forming a protective cover surrounding the growing fruit. When fruit is left inside the intact husks, golden berries have a shelf life at room temperature of up to 45 days. The pale lemony-colored fruit presents a subtle, delicate flavor of rose and tangerine that is said to taste much like a tart golden apricot with a flavor both floral and citrusy.
Settlers first brought the tangy and sweet golden fruit to the Cape of Good Hope in the early 1800s. In South Africa golden berries are commercially cultivated; canned fruits, dried fruits, syrups and jam are popular staple foods. The succulent berries are also cultivated and naturalized in Gabon and other mountainous regions of Central Africa.
The tasty gooseberry also flourishes in the mountains of northeastern China, primarily in Heilongjiang Province. A seasonal fruit, the berries are harvest from late August through September. After harvest, the berries are carefully dried at low temperatures to preserve nutrients and flavor. Today, the mouth-watering fruit is also commercially cultivated throughout Central and South America as well as Mexico. Once established in South America, the nutrient-rich golden berries traveled to Hawaii, Australia and New Zealand. Now cultivated in India where it is known as “ras bhari”, the soft, sweet berry is treasured for its complex floral flavor.
In the United States, the only states where golden berries are successfully cultivated are Hawaii, Florida and California. Because golden berries are subject to a wide variety of insect pests and require careful tending, they are not often grown as a cash crop. Because the vine-ripened berries transport well, the majority of the berries sold in the United States are imported from Mexico and Chile. Fast gaining in popularity, golden berries are available fresh, canned or dried.
Raw, organic dried golden berries are the most popular. When harvested, the sun-kissed yellow fruits are dried naturally to a deliciously chewy, leathery texture that captures the intensity of the berry’s unique flavor and all its nutritional goodness.
Unlike most other dried fruits, organic packaged versions of this nutritious superfood contain no added preservatives or sugars, which mean you aren’t loading up on unwanted chemicals and calories.
Health Benefits Of Golden Berries
Golden berries, loaded with essential nutrients, helps to strengthen the body in times of stress and physical activity. Marketed as a “superfood”, golden berries are a nutritional powerhouse packed full of vitamins A and C, rich in B-Complex vitamins, including B1, B2, B6 and B12, as well as vitamins E, K, pectin, iron, plant protein, bioflavonoids, niacin, phosphorous, potassium, beta-carotene and niacin.
Golden berries provide a stellar source of pectin fiber that helps ease the flow of food in the digestive tract to regulate blood sugar levels and lower cholesterol levels. Traditionally, medicinally beneficial golden berry tea was used as an effective treatment for constipation and diarrhea.
Tart and delicious golden berries are great for promoting digestion, improving metabolism, healing gastrointestinal upset, helping control diabetes and ridding the body of internal worms and parasites.
A delicious source of bioflavonoids, golden berries have potent anti-viral, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-histamine and anti-carcinogenic properties. They assist in treating problems with the prostate gland, nourish the intestinal tract cells, help with problems in postmenstrual women, reducing the risk of heart attacks and strokes and providing anti-aging benefits.
Golden berries offer a diverse array of healing properties. They have been know to treat a host of ailments including skin problems, optic nerve disorders, stomach distress, sore throats, edema, asthma and painful, swollen joints associated with arthritis. Because of their high concentration of B Complex vitamins, golden berries help reduce stress and fatigue, improve energy and metabolism and boost memory.
Golden Berries And Weight Loss
An ideal snack for those who want to lose weight, golden berries are excellent fat burners and provide glucose for energy. Incorporated into a healthy balanced diet, you drop pounds in a natural way. Golden berries are a fine source of complete protein. Rated at 16 percent protein, golden berries contain more protein than any other fruit.
Enjoy golden berries as snacks or toss a handful in a morning smoothie. Easy to carry when on the go, they satisfy cravings without guilt. A treasure trove of tart and tasty appealing flavor that packs a nutritional wallop, golden berries are a fun snacks kids love. Add golden berries to trail mix, toss in a salad or add to muffins, cookies, or side dishes and deserts.
Research studies indicate that the protein found in golden berries helps the body build muscle and burn energy, resulting in weight loss and muscle gain. The bioflavonoids found in the tasty berries boost the immune system and keep skin healthy.
Golden berries also present a diuretic effect similar to cranberries, making them helpful for persons prone to water retention or kidney function problems. Like cranberries, golden berries help cleanse the kidneys and promote overall optimum health.
Because golden berries are such a risk source of natural antioxidants, they are natural slimming agents that support weight loss goals.