What is a ground cherry? Ground cherries are blueberry sized fruit that have a flavor I would describe as a pineapple flavored tomato with a hint of vanilla. How does that sound?
Ground Cherries are often compared to a tomato I think the only similarity between the two is the same timing of planting – after all danger of frost has past. The first year we planted them we thought they would grow with our tomatoes in our string weave system. We have also tried to cage them. We eventually discovered that ground cherries prefer to sprawl across the ground rather than be caged or staked like a tomato.
Harvesting Ground Cherries is pretty simple. When they are ripe they fall off the plant. No picking fruit off the plant. We lift the branches and gather the ripened fruit from the ground. This year we grew our ground cherries in our garden that we straw mulch. It has been a bit slower at harvesting them this year picking through the straw. I recommend using weed mat as a mulch for these guys – it makes harvest a flash.
Ground cherries grow in a papery husk concealing the fruit. Pop them out of their husk with a gentle pinch. A ripe ground cherry with feel slightly soft when pinching it out of the husk. Goldie Ground Cherry will have a golden yellow color and look slightly translucent when it is perfectly ripe.
We like to make ground cherry jam. If making jam isn’t your thing try slicing or smash them up and add to a bowl of vanilla ice cream. You can also treat it as a sweetener to tomato recipes.
Check out this Ground Cherry Salsa from Straight from the Farm.
I don’t know about where you are, but here in Pennsylvania, autumn came trouncing in on a very chilly rain and seems to have decided to stay. Don’t get me wrong, I’m the first person to roll out the welcome mat for sweater-weather and the golden hues of a sun low in the sky. But this particular autumn isn’t so well behaved so far – it’s cold and rainy and leaves little room for those wonderful culinary creations that shine as bridges between the bounty of summer and the selectiveness of fall.
I was looking forward to offering up this recipe for bright fresh ground cherry and tomato salsaas a tasty way to take advantage of those last sweet little tomatoes and tomato-counterparts still left on the vine. But now, with this drastic change in the weather, you may very well be only in the mood for soups and…
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