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West Elm Volume Coffee Table – In the previous entry we presented the Ecuador Chair with a summary of all research and development work on two Ecuadorian products, plantain (musa paradisiaca) and physalis (physalis peruviana l.). On this occasion we will present only one of the products which is 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 to be in the South American Andes such as Peru (Leggue, 1974), Brazil (CRFG, 1997) and Ecuador (Bartholoomaus et al., 1990).

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Mainly, we can see it in the tropical zone of America, Antilles and Australia. According to some sources, the main countries that produce uvilla are Colombia, South Africa, New Zealand, Kenya, India, Italy, Argentina, South Africa, United Kingdom, Canada, Mexico, 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 of “physaloides” includes 90 to 100 species (D`Arcy, 1991; Martínez, 1998) and one of the edible ones today is physalis peruviana, also known as guchuba, uchuva, uvilla, cape gooseberry or andean cherry. .

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

Internally we work hard on fermentations. Therefore, the first step is to ferment the uvillas for later analysis through surveys carried out by a total number of 100 people, both professionals in the gastronomy sector and real consumers. Tastings are an affective type with the simple goal of achieving a positive or negative response regarding the reception of fermented fruit.

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We were inspired by the Japanese technique and custom of fermenting fruit in a lactic way, like the famous “umeboshi”. The word “ume” or Japanese apricot is a plum (prunnus mume, armeniaca mume) literally translated as “dried plum”. Umeboshi is traditionally used to make umeshu which is a macerated drink with umeboshis.

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

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

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It is called a cellular process in which glucose is used to obtain energy, in which glucose is partially oxidized and in which the waste product is lactic acid, traditionally used to make the main dairy products such as yogurt, viili, creme fraiche, lambic-type. beer 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 vigorously in fermentation, creating a favorable acidic environment for subsequent bacteria. The second phase begins when the environment is too acidic for most bacteria and Leuconostoc mesenteroides and other Leuconostoc spp. they control In the third phase the various Lactobacillus will ferment any remaining sugars and lower the pH.

These bacteria have a great halophilic character, unlike many other microorganisms that die in salt conditions, so lactic fermentations are always related to the percentage of salt, we always talk about a minimum which is 2% – 3% of the salt in the relationship. to the total weight of what is to be fermented. In this case, in addition to creating a selective environment for lactic bacteria to live, the salt removes water from the products through osmosis, accelerating fermentation. In the case of “umeboshi” it is traditionally made with 20%-25% salt, but it can be found in 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 direct contact with oxygen, but it has aerobic fermentation, so the vacuum bags. is now used (always leaving oxygen behind) to facilitate handling.

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

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The fermentation is carried out in a refrigerator at 4ºC for 2 months, it is done in this way because in the tests of other products, carrying out cold fermentation gives better results from the organoleptic point of view of perception, development of taste and smell.

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Tests made with higher amounts of salt were too salty for us and most of the specific taste of physalis was hidden behind the intensity of the salt. Tests with a small amount of salt are better accepted. However, the first tests can be used after soaking and desalting the product, insisting that part of its flavor and aroma is lost during this soaking.

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We can say that fermented uvilla can be used in the same way as “umeboshi” because of the very similar acidity and salinity characteristics, as part of garnish, sauces, etc., or as a simple snack. In this regard, if we separate the fermented product from the fermentation liquid extracted from the uvilla, a transparent and saline liquid that can be used as any fermented sauce, improving any preparation such as those dressings, soups, sauces, marinades, and more.

After several months of development of fermented products and various organoleptic and consumer tests, we found that the most accepted was 3% salt, with 80% acceptance in a tasting of the acceptance of the product which is made by 100 people, another percentage of salt as 6% and 8% if they are accepted in small quantities, which is the least accepted which is 12%.

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This opens up great possibilities for us in different lactally fermented fruits. We have tried different fruits and vegetables to find other uses for lactic acid fermentation, in these cases has excellent 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. The quality and maturity of Cape Gooseberry (physalis peruviana L.) is related to the color of the fruit. National University of Colombia, Santa Fe de Bogota. 1999.

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– FISHER, GERARD; MIRANDA, DIEGO; WILSON PIEDRAHITA, JORGE ROMERO. Developments 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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