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Otaheite gooseberry

Introduction of Otaheite gooseberry

            Scientific name - Phyllanthus acidus

Phyllanthus acidus, having its roots in the family Phyllanthaceae is commonly known as the Otaheite gooseberry. Cultivated mainly for the edible small yellow berries, notwithstanding its name, the shrub does not bear a resemblance to the gooseberry, with the exception of the tartness of its fruits. Apart from being cultivated for the small berry it gives, they are also cultivated for ornamentation purposes. The plant reaches to a height of 2 to 9 m (6 to 30 ft) high and it go-between shrubs and trees. Densely huddled, the fruit are oblate and has 6 to 8 ribs. At the center of each fruit, 4 to 6 seeds are contained in a stone and they are pale yellow or white, waxy, crisp and juicy, and very sour.

otaheite gooseberry 2
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Nutritional Value of Otaheite gooseberry

Nutritional facts
Moisture 91.9 g
Protein 0.155 g
Fat 0.52 g
Fiber 0.8 g
Ash 0.51 g
Calcium 5.4 mg
Phosphorus 17.9 mg
Iron 3.25 mg
Carotene 0.019 mg
Thiamine 0.025 mg
Riboflavin 0.013 mg
Niacin 0.292 mg
Ascorbic Acid 4.6 mg

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Uses of Otaheite gooseberry

Not only the fruit is edible, but various parts of the plant are being used for victuals. Seeing that, the fruit is generally regarded as too tart to have in its natural form, they are processed into relishes, preserves, candied in sugar or pickled in salt, in order to have the best taste of it, and they are also used in chutneys. The leaves of the plant are also cooked and consumed in Indonesia and India. However, the fruit is eaten fresh and also used as flavoring for other dishes. Liberally sweetened, they are also used to make fruit juice.

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Health Benefits of Otaheite gooseberry

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Also used as a Diuretic and a purgative, infusion of the root is taken in small amounts to treat asthma. The seeds are used as a stimulant and the leaves are poultice with pepper and used for back pains and rheumatism. In some places they are also used as a liver tonic. Strongly laxative in effect, the roots are boiled and inhaled for cough and headache. Predominantly, the plant is used to treat persons with:

Enlarged spleen
Psoriasis of the soles of the feet

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The best part about the plant, with regards to cultivation is that, they can be cultivated in a variety of ways including budding, cutting and air-layering. Preferring moist soil to thrive, the Otaheite gooseberry tree is predominantly cultivated for its ornamental value together for the food and medicinal uses. Seeing that, the fruit does not soften when matured, they are harvested when the fruit begins to drop. Despite the fact that, it produces some fruit during the year, it is chiefly harvested in January not including South India, where it bears crops in Apri-May and yet again in August-September.

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How to Open/Cut

When you wanted to consume the fruit, divide in two and remove the stone, in order to have it juiced, pulse blend the berry adding some water and drain through a sieve.

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If you are consuming star gooseberries in a few days, then keep them at room temperature. If not place them in a plastic container and keep it in the refrigerator. Since star gooseberries are robust, they can last for few weeks to a month. Freezing the fruit can also be done, however it should be consumed within the year. For the dried fruits to last a few years, you can keep them in a dark airtight container, but make sure that it is not exposed to direct sunlight. By doing this, longevity of the fruit is preserved.

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