The “Uchuva” (Golden berry) knows to herself that she is a jewel, thus to protect itself, it made its own protective layer: The small golden berry comes wrapped in green leaves, hidden among orchards so no one can steal it away!
Now, like other superfoods, it highlights its flavor and its benefits for the body. This small spherical fruit shines with its orange and gold tones. Inside the mouth, it explodes with a juicy flavor, between sweet and sour.
Physalis Peruvian comes from Peru, although its cultivation has spread throughout the world in more than 50 varieties. It is known by varied names, such as aguaymanto and fruit of love – and among many fruit myths; one says that it is an aphrodisiac.
Cultivated in Costa Rica in the high areas of Cartago and Los Santos, this small fruit is used in traditional medicine to fight common diseases mainly due to its content of starchy compounds (micronutrients present in the plant kingdom), vitamins and minerals.
Considered within the list of super foods, the Uchuva is a fruit with nutritional properties recommended for your health. Its nutritional content is a source of vitamin A, B, and C, fiber, potassium, phosphorus, iron, and zinc. The consumption of 100 grams of this fruit provides 53 kcal of energy, 11.2 g of carbohydrates, and 0.7 g of fat, 1.9 g of protein as well as vitamins and minerals to the organism. A ½ cup of this fruit equals to 1 serving of fruit, so you can eat it daily.
It can be consumed without processing, like dehydrated fruit, and also added to juices, jams, ice creams, sweets, and jellies. These qualities have made it a very appealing product for the markets of Japan and Europe. Uchuva juice has high pectin content, which lowers the costs of making jams and other similar preparations. (Fischer, 1993) Treatment of diseases?
The Uchuva has demonstrated anti-carcinogenic potential due to its nutritional properties. According to a study carried out, it was possible to inhibit the in vivo growth of lung cancer cells thanks to this fruit. Also for its phytochemical content, it contains important antioxidant properties for the organism. Another contribution that is contemplated by this fruit is a possible hypoglycemic effect, in relation to one of the most common diseases, diabetes.
It is very important to emphasize that it is a source of polyunsaturated fatty acids that are considered essential for the organism and its composition in flavonoids, favors the use of this fruit for the preparation of homemade natural sedatives. Whether in its natural state or in desserts, syrup, in salads as a companion, dehydrated or in infusions, it is advisable to include this fruit in your diet to enjoy its benefits and flavor. Recommended is a practical infusion that in addition to delicious contributes to treating ailments associated with the prostate, such as boiling the Uchuva in a ¼ liter of water for 10 minutes.
It is a crop that develops very well at high altitudes, between 1800 and 2800 masl, with average temperatures between 13º and 15ºC. The plant is susceptible to extreme temperatures; very high temperatures can damage the flowering and fructification, as well as nocturnal temperatures below 10ºC can prevent it from thriving, likewise, persistent rain affects the condition of the plant.
Temperature and light play a very important role in the size, color, nutritional content, flavor and ripening time of the fruit. To obtain a good quality fruit, an equivalent luminous intensity is required between 1,500 and 2,000 light hours/year. The optimum annual rainfall should range between 1000 and 2000 mm well distributed throughout the year, with a relative humidity between 70% and 80%. The supply of water during dry periods is important to avoid splitting the fruits.
In Costa Rica, there is no specific commercial producing area of this crop. It is recognized as a wild plant that is on the edge of roads and highways in Cartago and Los Santos. There is also no known marketing strategy of the same, except a small association of women in Providencia de Dota, which sells it in jam on roadside sales.
The countries with the most market potential for these fruits are Holland, Germany, France, England, Spain, Belgium, Switzerland, Canada, and Brazil. One study highlights 8 crops with export potential, among them are the: Uchuva, Mangosteen, Pitahaya, Guanabana, Passion fruit, Ipecacuanha, Pejibaye and Carambola, all these can be strongly cultivated in Costa
Rich to be successfully sold to foreign markets, according to the conclusions of a study about the exports of fresh products, made by the Foreign Trade Promoter (Procomer). This analysis establishes that the nutritional and medicinal properties attributed to these agricultural products give them sales options in the international market, precisely because of consumer trends towards healthy eating and towards the natural lifestyle.
Karina López Porras, the coordinator of Market Research of Procomer, explained that another of the main objectives that motivated the research is that Costa Rica’s exports of fresh products are very concentrated in bananas, pineapples, melons, and some tubers. In addition, Procomer gives relevance to the fact that the agricultural sector continues to have in overall exports, added the Procomer official.
Alberto Montero, manager of the Tropical Fruits Program of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAG), estimated that Costa Rica must first increase the production volumes of these natural products so it can qualify as “promising” and, later, develop programs to industrialize them with a goal of profitable export. Montero warned that there is competition from some countries, including Latin Americans, who already have a presence with these products in several markets.
But Lopez said that one of the conclusions of the report is based on that. If some countries are successful exporters of these goods, why cannot Costa Rica do so? However, to achieve success we must take into account the trends, such as, that consumers are increasingly concerned about the safety of foods and look for products that comply with quality certification and social responsibility, warns the report. In addition, they prefer the traditional channel (greengrocers, small merchants); to supply and modern channels such as home delivery, vending (self-vending machines) 24 hours and electronic portals.
Among the conclusions, it is particularly important that the export of these products should be made, especially with some degree of industrialization, such as in pulps, concentrated juices, frozen pieces, and others. In this way, they are sent with added value. They can be placed in industries that use them as raw material and the numerous phytosanitary requirements established in some markets for fresh products are exceeded.