Our Favorites: Goldie Ground Cherries

Several years ago while driving through Lancaster County, we made a discovery that would forever change our gardens. At one of the larger roadside stands past Churchtown we found these small peculiar fruits with a dry husk. An older Amish woman encouraged us to taste them. One bite was all it took to discover the sweet fruity juicy deliciousness of ground cherries.

With a taste like a cherry tomato injected with mango and pineapple juice, and looks like an oversized orange pearl encased in a miniature paper lantern. The Physalis pruinosa,  ground cherry, is a close relative to tomatoes and tomatillos. The plants produce prolific volumes of fruits - its an everyday picking and snacking plant from summer through the first frosts of late October.

Ground cherries are supremely versatile in both sweet and savory dishes. They are easily unwrapped and eaten freshly picked off the vine. 

1. Puree them into a salsa verde, or chop them in into this ground cherry salsa.

2. Bake a ground cherry pieupside-down cake, or a husk cherry and plum tart. Chef Martin GagnĂ© of La Maison makes a wonderful ground cherry clafoutis.  

3. Layer halved ground cherries with fresh tomatoes and basil for an easy appetizer.

4. Make a simple salad from greens, ground cherries and goat cheese, or get a little more complex with husk cherry Waldorf salad.

5. Ground cherry jam is a piece of cake and an easy way to enjoy their unique taste throughout the year.

Ground cherries are exceptionally difficult to find, and luckily we grow trays of these every year to share among friends. Why don't you grow some too?