Monday, September 19, 2011

Ground Cherries

All photos, (c) 9/10/11, Kathy Fannon; Ground Cherries
(Click on images to enlarge.)

Last weekend my daughter went to the farmers market with me. We passed a booth and she asked what “those papery white things” were. I had no idea, so we stopped and asked.

Ground Cherries.

The lady from CJ Veggies was kind enough to give us a sample. They’re good! We bought a pint to bring home and share with the guys.

My husband liked them, but he likes almost anything.

My son didn’t like them, but he tends to be a picky eater.

They’re smaller than a cherry tomato and have the same texture, smooth skin with watery seeds inside. They look like a tomato but taste sweet, like pineapple or strawberry and are a fruit, similar to Cape gooseberry.

A "Super Sweet" cherry tomato compared to Ground Cherries

Ground Cherries fall off the vine when ripe, hence the name. I saw their outsides described as “lantern-like paper husks”, which as you can see is a great description.

Ground Cherries have a bit of a pineapple taste, although some blogs around the web also describe them has having a strawberry flavor. The lady from CJ Veggies said one customer’s little boy thought they tasted like Fruit Loops. (There’s your alternative to sugary cereal! Hah!)

While reminiscent of pineapple or strawberry, really, the taste is unique.

Ground Cherries taste fabulous on their own, right out of their paper husks, but they can also be used in salads (leafy green or fruit), pie, jam, muffins and apparently taste good dipped in chocolate or made into wine.

I apologize for the blurry picture. But nice, clear detail of my counter top, huh!

They freeze well, so the blogs say, but I’m not sure what they’ll do when thawed. They might be better used in a muffin recipe than to think I’ll just put them in my breakfast yogurt. I’ll have to experiment with that one.

Ground Cherries are a low-maintenance, small plant (1’ – 3’ high) that usually grows wild, but cultivated in  parts of the country. We’re fortunate West Michigan is one of those places!

They are also known as husk tomatoes, chew cherries, strawberry tomatoes or winter cherries.

One cup of ground cherries has:

·         Calories: 75
·         Protein: 3 grams
·         Vitamin A: 20%
·         Vitamin C: 26%
·         Calcium: 1%
·         Iron: 8%

Cooking Books has a great post on Ground Cherries to check out, and a recipe for "Poached Ground Cherries" that she eats over ice cream.

Suite 101 also has a great blog post on Ground Cherries, including growing, harvesting and using, along with instructions on how to freeze them and a recipe for Ground-Cherry marmalade, with pear and pineapple, which sounds perfect for fall!

Have you ever heard of or had Ground Cherries? What new thing will you try from your farmers market before the season is over? I’m glad my daughter was curious, we found a new food to love!

Read my previous post: Your Opinion Matters To Me!
Read my next post: Baked Applesauce

Note: Sadness. I tried to buy more of these yummy ground cherries this past Saturday, but the season is pretty much over! Say it ain't so! You may be able to find ground cherries here and there, but I will have to wait until next year to buy them from CJ Veggies. She said the growing season is the same as tomatoes, so I'll start watching the beginning of August and experiment more next year. Let me know if you find some!