Back in Tennessee our property was covered with groundcherries (sometimes known as stone cherries, husk tomatoes, and sometimes Cape Gooseberries). Had I known how absolutely wonderful they tasted I would have taken full advantage of this free resource. I should have taken the time to identify the differences between the nightshade plants and the groundcherry instead of ripping out every lookalike for fear that my daughter would find the colorful fruit irresistible. After all, I could easily tell the difference between a tomatillo and Chinese lantern. They’re all part of the Physalis genus, and in the Solanaceae family which also gives us peppers and tomatoes. In my defense, our property was also covered with the smooth ground cherry – a known hallucinogenic (smooth groundcherry leaves are almost hairless and given the Latin name P. subglabrata).
When picking wild foods education is everything.
I said they were delicious, didn’t I? Yes, yes indeed. But it seems they’re a bit like cilantro. You either love ‘em or you hate ‘em. They have an evolving flavor. For me, they start of tasting like a pineapple, then mellow out a bit like a tomato with a distinctive flavor from its relative, the tomatillo. Hubby thinks they taste like bacon and pancakes, and finish like a tomato. The Kid despises them, but then again she is revolting against all fruits and vegetables at this time. If you can find them in your yard or in the wild, consider yourself lucky! I was fortunate to find them at the farmers market. I hope you get the chance to sample one this summer as they’re not only tasty, they’re rich in provitamin A – a healthy sweet and tart treat. If you get them, buy some up as they can last in cool storage for 3-6 months.
(Phenomenal on fish, chicken, or chips)
- 1 cup groundcherries, sliced in half
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
- 1 cup (about three large) tomatillos, diced
- 1/4 cup diced red onion
- 1 clove garlic, smushed
- salt and pepper to taste
- (optional: green chilies, jalapenos, and/or cilantro)
Remove husks from ground cherries and tomatillos and wash them along with the tomatoes. Chop, dice and mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Ta Daaa! Couldn’t be much easier or healthy to add some flavor to a simple dish.
Chocolate covered Groundcherries
- Melting chocolate such as bark
- Pull husks of groundcherries up, but do not remove. Wash fruit and allow to dry. Try not to get husks wet.
- While they’re drying, melt chocolate in a double boiler over low heat and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- Use husks as a handle and dip the cherry in the chocolate, then set on parchment to cool completely.
- If hard chocolates aren’t your thing, consider fondue!
Jennifer can be found at Unearthing this Life; her blarg about self-sustainability, gardening, cooking, and family.