The Pichuberry: A New, Old Fruit to Taste Here in Phoenix

Categories: Locally Grown

Mouth Public Relations
A new member of the 'superfood' family has hit the Arizona marketplace and its promotors hope to take our tastebuds by storm. The Pichuberry is a fruit that at first looks like a ground cherry or what some may call a gooseberry, but do not be mistaken, for this berry is being billed as a superfood and its boosters claim it's drastically different from its other physalis cousins (like the tomatillo, too). Phoenix-based Pichuberry Company is teaming with Mojo Tree Farms to grow and popularize this little golden fruit and teach North Americans what the Andean people have known for so long.

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Known as aguaymanto or Incan Berry in Peru, the Pichuberry (named for us here in AZ to trigger thoughts of the berry's heritage: like Machu Picchu) is a plant that grew along the Inca trails throughout the mountainous Andean terrain. These golden berries are a sweet, tart, and interesting "new" fruit to try.

According to Manuel Villacorta, a registered dietician and representative for the Pichuberry Company, this fruit has phytochemicals that can prevent cancer by inhibiting tumor growth, is anti-inflammatory, lowers bad cholesterol, and is low glycemic. And despite the fact that Hawaii has the ideal climate in the states for growing this new superfruit, the company is working to popularize the fruit here by growing it in greenhouses.

Not to rain on the Pichuberry parade, but "superfood" claims should always be taken with a grain of salt. According to a dietitian not representing the company, Terri Taylor of the Virginia G. Piper Cancer center, "all plant foods have natural compounds called phytochemicals that have anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, disease-protective properties," though these benefits vary depending on the plant. So this tells us that eating fruits and veggies is generally a good idea, and while the Pichuberry may be especially nutritious in some aspects, we cannot be sure what levels we need to consume them at to truly reap the benefits the company boasts. This berry may not be quite the ancient Andean cure-all it claims, but it can be a healthful addition to a diet that incorporates many plant-based and unprocessed foods.

You can sample the berries and decide their "super" status for yourself at the Mojo Tree stand at either the Scottsdale Old Town Market or the Phoenix Downtown Public Market. Who knows, maybe the berries will give us the strength to build the next wonder of the world.

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Location Info



Old Town Farmers' Market

City of Scottsdale parking lot, Scottsdale, AZ

Category: General

My Voice Nation Help

Hmmm I grew up in Barbados with these berries but never paid much attention to them. Back to nature it is.

Monika Woolsey
Monika Woolsey

Michael is pretty insistent that because the juice has a low glycemic index you can costume pretty large quantities without ill effects. That specific fact has never been documented with a clinical study. I told him if he invested in that exact study and it backed his claim I would promote that for him. We shall see.

Sharon B. Salomon
Sharon B. Salomon

And just eating a few pichuberries a day won't cure cancer or prevent cancer or do much of anything else unless they're part of an already healthy diet. Another RD here. There are super diets but not really super foods.

Monika Woolsey
Monika Woolsey

They are cape gooseberries. The company gave them a new name they could brand, as it would be easier to patent the Pichuberry Infusion Juice they make. I have a Pinterest board at Hip Veggies under the name Pichuberry/cape gooseberry for anyone looking for recipes. The berries are currently flown in from Colombia (they are native to the Andes). Mojo Tree Farms intends to invest the profits into creating a greenhouse system in Southern Arizona where they will become a local crop. I saw them recently growing as well at Singh Farms. You are right, there is no legal definition for superfruit. We actually showcase them in a Hip Veggies project but we made it very clear to this company we would not promote the superfood aspect of their marketing. I had a very long discussion with the owner of the company suggesting that he was perhaps stretching his claims. Seems they are confident they are not. I do like them from a culinary standpoint (fresh fruit) a bottle of the juice has a whole lot of calories. and think you might enjoy the video the students of Cesar Chavez School helped us produce about them.

Sharon B. Salomon
Sharon B. Salomon

I believe they are cape gooseberries. Monika Woolsey will be able to tell you move Hip Veggies

Korina Adkins
Korina Adkins

Same thing as far as I can tell. I have a plant from Vilardi Gardens, but no berries yet :(

Courtney Nush
Courtney Nush

This article makes it sound like these are being grown here now, but when I asked the vendor where they were from at the downtown farmer's market last week he said they were imported from Peru. Are they working to start growing them here or are they actually growing them here?

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