HLB Specialties physalis

HLB Specialties has received the first shipments of Colombian physalis imported into the US without undergoing cold treatment for fruit fly.

Previously the fruit, , also known as goldenberries or cape gooseberries, had to undergo a 14-day quarantine treatment mandated by USDA before being distributed in the US, which dramatically reduced shelf-life and increased costs but following a recent rule change, shipments from verified ‘fruit fly free zones’ can enter the country without being subjected to the cold treatment.

“Previously it was difficult and costly to handle Colombian goldenberries, because the cold-treatment would give us only about one week to sell, distribute, and have the shoppers enjoy the fruit at home,” said Andres Ocampo, HLB Specialties’ director of operations.

“With the new regulation we have a two to three week shelf-life and can offer a much more competitive price.”

Ocampo noted that fruit could be delivered at any major US airport in as little as 48 hours from harvesting. The goldenberries are packed in baskets and clamshells of 3.5oz each that come in boxes of 12 units (baskets) and 9 units (clamshells).

Goldenberries grow year-round on a vine and resemble small tomatillos with a brown papery husk covering the round, cherry-sized fruit, which protects the berry and is removed at the time of consumption. The fruit is yellow when ripe and its unique flavour is sweet-tart, refreshing and slightly acidic.

“Since the fruit is grown virtually wild and with little human interference and minimal pesticide use, most people don’t even wash the fruit, just remove the husk and pop it in their mouths,” said Melissa Hartmann de Barros, the company’s director of communications.

Due to their distinct presentation, the fruit is also a versatile item used in foodservice. In Europe, where they have been popular for years, they are commonly used as garnish in cocktails, desserts, juices and fruit salads.

HLB Specialties handles a variety of tropical fruits, including conventional and organic papayas, mangoes, avocados, limes, rambutan, and goldenberries.