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Console And Coffee Table Set – In a previous post we have presented the Ecuador Chair together with a summary of all the research and development work of two Ecuadorian products, plantain (musa paradisiaca) and physalis (physalis peruviana l.). On this occasion we are going to present only one of the products that is the physalis or uvilla as they call it colloquially in their country of origin, Ecuador.

The uvilla (physalis peruviana l.) is a plant belonging to the Solanaceae family and its fruits grow and ripen inside its calyx. Its origin is unclear but it is believed that it was in the South American Andes such as Peru (Leggue, 1974), Brazil (CRFG, 1997) and Ecuador (Bartholomaus et al., 1990).

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Mainly, we find it in the tropical zone of America, the Antilles and Australia. According to some sources, the main uvilla producing countries are Colombia, South Africa, New Zealand, Kenya, India, Italy, Argentina, South Africa, the United Kingdom, Canada, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Honduras and Peru. Worldwide, the main exporting countries are: Zimbabwe, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Kenya, South Africa, Peru, Bolivia and Mexico. (Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Aquaculture and Fisheries, 2011, Ecuador, FAO 1982).

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The genus “physaloides” includes 90 to 100 species (D`Arcy, 1991; Martínez, 1998) and one of the edible ones today is the physalis peruviana, also known as guchuba, uchuva, uvilla, cape gooseberry or andean cherry. .

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It is a fruit considered “functional food” since according to Harman (2004) it has immuno-stimulant, anticancer, antibacterial, antiviral and diuretic characteristics. In addition, medicinal properties such as purifying the blood, reducing albumin in the kidneys, relieving throat problems, fortifying the optic nerve, cleaning cataracts and controlling amebiasis are contributed to it (Corporación Colombia Internacional, Universidad de los Andes and the Department of National Planning, 1994). It is a source of provitamin A and vitamin C (Herman, 1994b).

Inside we are working intensely on fermentations. Therefore, the first development was to ferment uvillas for later analysis through surveys carried out on a total number of 100 people, both professionals in the gastronomy sector and real consumers. The tastings have been of an affective type with the simple objective of achieving a positive or negative response regarding the acceptance of the fermented fruit.

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We have been inspired by a Japanese technique and custom of fermenting fruit lactically, such as the well-known “umeboshi”. The word “ume” or Japanese apricot is really a plum (prunnus mume, armeniaca mume) being the literal translation “dried plum”. Umeboshi is traditionally used to make umeshu macerated liquor with umeboshis.

In the case of umeboshi, it is a Japanese apricot that is grown in early summer when it is beginning to change its color from green to yellowish and is preserved through lactic fermentation in salting for a few months. They are then dehydrated in the sun and kept semi-dry. They are usually red in color because they are fermented with red shiso leaves, but they also exist without shiso. The most common way to consume them in Japan is in a cup of bacha tea, desalted in tempura or, most significantly, on top of a bowl of rice (hinomau bento, referring to the Japanese flag). (Hosking, R., 2001)

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The objective of this development is to obtain fermented physalis similar to a Japanese product called “umeboshi” of great gastronomic value, promoting its use and disseminating it as a new marketable Andean product throughout the world.

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It is called the cellular process where glucose is used to obtain energy, in which glucose is partially oxidized and where the waste product is lactic acid, traditionally used in the production of mainly dairy products such as yogurt, viili, creme fraiche, lambic-type beers as well as vegetables and fruits such as sauerkraut, kimchi or umeboshi.

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Lactic fermentation occurs in three phases; Initially, anaerobic bacteria such as Klebsiella and Enterobacter act more strongly in fermentation, producing a favorable acidic environment for the next bacteria. The second phase begins when the environment is too acidic for most bacteria and Leuconostoc mesenteroides and other Leuconostoc spp. they take control In the third phase various Lactobacillus ferment any remaining sugar and lower the pH.

These bacteria have the great characteristic of being halophilic, unlike many other microorganisms that die in saline conditions, that is why lactic fermentations have always been related to percentages of salt, we always talk about a minimum of 2% – 3% of salt in relation to the total weight of what is going to be fermented. In this case, in addition to generating a selective environment for the lactic acid bacteria to live in, the salt extracts the water from the products by osmosis, accelerating fermentation. In the case of “umeboshi” it is traditionally made with 20%-25% salt, but they can be found on the market from 4%.

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Traditionally, for this type of fermentation, glass or wooden jars are used, always taking care that the product is completely covered with liquid to prevent the product from being in direct contact with oxygen, but it does have an aerobic fermentation, which is why vacuum bags are currently used. (always leaving oxygen) to facilitate handling.

Different percentages of salt were tested: 2%, 3% and 6%, this range was chosen since in fermented products and previous tests they were accepted ranges of salt. All were made in a vacuum bag with 85% vacuum.

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The fermentation was carried out in a refrigerator at 4ºC for 2 months, it was done in this way since in tests with other products, carrying out the cold fermentation gave better results from the organoleptic point of view, improving flavor and smell.

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The tests carried out with a higher amount of salt are too salty for us and much of the specific flavor of the physalis is hidden behind the intensity of the salt. The tests with less amount of salt had better acceptance. Even so, the first tests can be used after soaking and desalting the product, insisting that part of its flavor and aroma is lost in this soaking.

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We could say that the fermented uvilla can be used in the same way as the “umeboshi” due to its very similar acidity and salinity characteristics, as part of a garnish, sauces, etc., or as a simple snack. In this part, if we differentiate the fermented product from the fermentation liquid that is extracted from the uvilla, a transparent and saline liquid that can be used as any fermented sauce, enhancing any preparation such as dressings, broths, sauces, marinades, etc.

After several months of development of the fermented products and different organoleptic and consumer tests, we saw that the most accepted was 3% salt, with 80% acceptance in a product acceptance tasting carried out on 100 people, another percentage of salt as 6% and 8% if they were accepted in less quantity, being the least accepted 12%.

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This opens up great possibilities for us in different lactically fermented fruits. We have already tried different fruits and vegetables looking for other uses for lactic acid fermentation, in these cases having very good nutritional and gastronomic results for use in restaurants and on a daily basis.

– ALVARES BOXES, GILBERTO; CAMPOVERDE VIVANCO, GENNY; ESPINOSA MEJIA, MARCO; Technical Manual for the cultivation of uvilla (physalis peruviana L.) in Loja. Loja, Ecuador, 2012.

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– FISHER, GERARD; MARTINEZ, ORLANDO. Quality and maturity of Cape Gooseberry (physalis peruviana L.) in relation to the color of the fruit. National University of Colombia, Santafe de Bogota. 1999.

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– FISHER, GERARD; MIRANDA, DIEGO; WILSON PIEDRAHITA, JORGE ROMERO. Advances in cultivation, post-harvest and export of cape gooseberry (physalis peruviana L.) in Colombia. National University of Colombia, Faculty of Agronomy, Bogotá, 2005. ISBN: 958-701-603-3.

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– JUNTAMAY TENEZACA, ELVIA ROCIO. Nutritional evaluation of dehydrated cape gooseberry (physalis peruviana L.) at three temperatures using a tray dehydrator. Riobamba, Ecuador, 2010.


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