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Ground Cherries

ground cherries
At the Chelmsford Farmers Market on Thursday I bought ground cherries aka husk cherries. They have a papery husk like a tomatillo.

They were sweet to eat raw. Are there ways to use them in cooking? What kind of a fruit/vegetable is it?

3 comments to Ground Cherries

  • Ground Cherry (Physalis Pruinosa), resemble miniature yellow-brown tomatillos. They are more flavorful than tomatillos, resembling strawberries or pineapples with a mild acidity. Ground Cherries are wild species (although they have many relatives of different species) and are often found along roadsides, fields and meadows on the East Coast. Although few farmers grow them, they are often found for sale at farmers’ markets. They stay fresh for extended periods (four to six weeks) if bought ripe and their papery husks are not torn. When you peel away the husk, you find a small, tomato-like, sweet-tart fruit. Before ground cherries ripen, they are green and inedible. When they turn yellow-brown, they’re ripe and ready to eat. Pennsylvania Dutch folks make sweet and savory pies from them. The berries can be eaten raw, added to salads or made into salsas or preserves. They can also be dried to add to winter dishes later on.
    From The Organic Cook’s Bible, by Jeff Cox, 641.302/Cox

    A recipe for Ground Cherry Pie can be found on page 134.

    We found the following recipe for Fresh Ground Cherry Salsa on the web at:

    Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated (America’s Test Kitchen Magazine)

    1 lbs of ripe ground cherries, halved (about 2 cups)
    ½ lb of ripe Roma or cherry tomatoes, diced (about 1 cup)
    1 large jalapeno chili, seeded, with the flesh finely minced
    ½ cup minced red onion
    1 small clove garlic, minced
    ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
    ½ tsp salt
    pinch ground pepper
    2-6 tsp lime juice (1-2 limes)
    Sugar to taste (up to 1 tsp)
    Place tomatoes in colander and let drain 30 minutes. As they drain, layer ground cherries, jalapeno, onion, garlic and cilantro on top. Shake colander to drain off excess juice. Discard. Transfer to large bowl and add salt, pepper and 2 tsp lime juice. Toss to combine. Taste and add minced jalapeno seeds, sugar and lime juice to taste.
    Note: This salsa can be made 2-3 hours in advance, but hold off adding the salt, lime juice and sugar until just before serving.

    (makes 4 cups)

  • Lyn Carey

    I am familiar with “ground cherries”. My family always called them strawberry tomatoes. I have some growing in my garden now. They grow very easily from the ripened seeds that fall from the plant in the fall. My mother used to make jam with them. It was sweet and delicious. I will try to remember to bring some with me to the August meeting.

  • Hello – Ground Cherries will be one of the species I will be covering in my slide show I’ll be presenting at the Chelmsford Public Library next month. (Monday, October 6 @ 7PM).

    Here’s a description:

    The area in and around Chelmsford is home to over 70 species of edible wild plants, some of which are more nutritious and/or flavorful than their cultivated counterparts. Join Russ Cohen, expert forager and author of Wild Plants I Have Known…and Eaten, for a 60-minute slide show entitled “Edible Wild Plants in and around Chelmsford”. It covers over three dozen of the tastiest species the region has to offer. These range from plants everyone knows well, like Daisies and Dandelions, to plants they may never have even heard of, like Calamus and Carrion Flower. Russ will present information for each species on identification tips, edible portion(s), season(s) of availability and preparation methods, along with general guidelines for safe and environmentally-responsible foraging. Russ will also bring along handouts and a foraged goodie for people to taste.

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