Ground Cherries

Great article on ground cherries today, which you can find here.  We got our seeds for the ground cherries in our garden from Hudson Valley Seed Library as well.  It’s said they’re super easy to grow but we had a hard time just getting ours to germinate.

Ground cherries look like miniature tomatillos, with a similar papery husk and plants that grow quite bushy and wild if left unstaked.  However, unlike tomatillos, they are very sweet, hence their name.  I think they’d be great in a jam if you had enough of them.

Although ours took awhile to get started, they hung in there once we transplanted them into the garden.  We gave some to our garden neighbors Anne and Sebastian, and once in their plot, they took off and are HUGE now.  Ours are not so large, probably as a result of a failure to weed properly early on.  Still, we should definitely get enough to assuage our appetites for this delicious fruit.

Ground cherries are ripe when they fall to the ground (hence the name GROUND cherries).  You can allow the fruit to ripen in the husk after they’ve been harvested to make them sweeter. They’ll last up to 3 months if you store them in the husk.

Make sure you don’t eat unripe ground cherries! (I unfortunately am guilty of this.) That’s because they contain solanine, which is what makes potatoes toxic when they turn green.

And finally…what to do with all those ground cherries?  There are lots of recipes out there for jams and chutneys and even ground cherry pie, but we have enough already stocked for the coming year.  This recipe looks fantastic.

Fresh Ground Cherry Salsa
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)

2 Responses

  1. Chelle I’ve never even heard of these! Do they taste and look like other cherries?

    • No, they look like miniature tomatillos. They’re really a member of the tomato family (nightshade) so they’re not as sweet as cherries, but very close IMO.

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