Chinese Lantern Fruit

If you have read this blog for awhile then you know that one of the over-riding themes here at EWS is the challenge to eat something new , if not everyday then as often as you can. Nutrition is best served by eating a variety of foods and in Shanghai, city of great cuisine both high end and humble, finding a novel food choice should be as the next street corner.

I do try to practice what I preach so last week I bought some physalis or more commonly known as  Suān jiāng(酸浆), aka ground cherries. You have seen these in the markets and on the local online grocers. They are about the size of a cherry and wrapped (by nature)  to look like paper lanterns. In fact that is probably what moved me to buy them. I was at a graduation party this summer and the finale was the lighting of colorful paper lanterns that rise up overhead and then float away on the evening breezes. Such a pleasant memory…recalled by a tiny fruit, who would have thought it.

The ground cherries or Cape Gooseberry, as they are known in English are sweet and mild and taste somewhat like a nice cherry tomato, except crunchier. This should not be a big surprise as one of  the many varieties of physalis, the proper botanical name of the ground cherry, is a tomatillo.

Ground cherries are handy little packages that are fun to open, like a wee present in  your lunch. Nutrition-wise they have a little of this and a little of that.  Ten cherries are only 26 calories. They have no fat and a bit of protein (about 1 gm/10 cherries), some potassium and  some beta carotene ( a powerful antioxidant, commonly found in carrots). However in Chinese medicine, ground cherries are used to treat the symptoms of a common cold; coughs, fevers and sore throats. So perhaps there is more to these literal gifts of nature that we have yet to discover.

What we do know is that right now ground cherries are in season and local and are an easy way to add some variety to your day, or your child’s lunch box!

Eat Well, Live Well, Have Fun!






In Chinese medicine, Physalis species are used as remedies for such conditions as abscesses, coughs, fevers, and sore throat