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Wha' dat? Barbados gooseberry

By Alan Markoff

A look at some of the lesser-known fruits and vegetables at the Wednesday Camana Bay Local Harvest Market

GENUS AND SPECIES:
Pereskia aculeata

PLANT FAMILY:
Cactaceae (cactus)

ORIGIN:
Tropical Americas

OTHER NAMES IN THE WORLD:
Tsunya, lemon vine, perescia, blade apple cactus, ora-pro-nóbis, Surinam gooseberry

APPEARANCE:
The berries are round or oval in shape and orange or dark yellow in colour. The skin is smooth and thin and small leaves grow out of the skin. Inside, the opaque flesh contains numerous dark brown or black seeds.

TEXTURE:
The flesh is soft and juicy.

FLAVOUR PROFILE:
Mild and tart

NUTRITION AND HEALTH BENEFITS:
The fruit is a good source of vitamin A and also contains calcium and phosphorus. Pereskia aculeata leaves, which are also edible and are used often as a cooking ingredient in Brazil, are an excellent source of protein, as well as iron, calcium, phosphorus and magnesium.

HOW TO CONSUME:
The berries can be eaten raw or stewed, or cooked down with sugar to make jams, sauces, compotes or curds. Former executive chef at The Brasserie, Nevin Patel, created a delicious tangy barbecue sauce using Barbados gooseberries grown in the restaurant’s chef’s garden.

FUN FACTS:
Pereskia aculeata has been declared a weed and banned for cultivation in South Africa and Hawaii because of its potential to cause extensive damage to forest areas by smothering indigenous trees. The scrambling vine can form large, impenetrable, thorny thickets that make it hard to eradicate. The plant is easily spread by rooting broken stem fragments and by birds when seeds are present.

This article originally appeared in the June 2019 print edition of Camana Bay Times.

alan-markoff-headshot

About the author

Alan Markoff has worked with Dart as the editor for Camana Bay Times for three years and has been writing professionally since 1997. Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Alan graduated from the State University of New York at Albany with a degree in English, and first moved to the Cayman Islands in 1982. He has 16 years of experience in the real estate industry and previously worked as a journalist for Cayman Compass before joining Dart to relaunch the Camana Bay Times monthly newspaper. An avid baseball fan, Alan loves travelling but also schedules trips back home around catching a summer game or two with his home team, Cleveland Indians. He is a movie buff who spends many an evening catching a film at Camana Bay Cinema. It was at one of these movies that he met his wife, Lynn!