Nobody has asked me yet, but ground cherries are a delicious little fruit.  Otherwise known as Cape gooseberries, Husk Cherry, Inca Berries, or Winter Cherries, there are many species in the genus Physalis that are commonly known as ground cherries. Like tomatillos, the fruits are wrapped in papery husks.  They are typically yellow, but there are varieties of fruit out there that are purple, or closer to orange.  They can be a 1/4″ in diameter, or as big as an 1″ in diameter.  And– most wonderfully– they taste a little like pineapple, but can grow in cold places like Colorado or the Northeast.

The country of Colombia is the major commercial producer, but you can often find them at farmer’s markets or farm stands throughout the US.  The plants are vaguely like tomato plants (also a nightshade), and bear generously.  A few sources for the seeds are:

http://www.seedsavers.org

http://www.vistoryseeds.com

http://www.johnnyseeds.com  (search for Husk Cherry)

Ground cherries are classically used for jams, pies, and preserves.  You can also saute them for a side dish, add them to salads (fruit or vegetable), or eat them out of hand.  Substitute for pineapple in meat dishes or tomato on pizza for an revolutionary original topping.  My favorite way to eat them is plain– just wash, shuck, and enjoy– for a snack or dessert.  If you don’t shuck them, they actually store surprisingly well.  Expect them to last two to three weeks in a cool place– a nice feature for people who are only cooking for themselves

Nutrition-wise, ground cherries are a good sources of vitamin C, vitamin A, iron, and niacin.  One cup has about 75 calories, so they are quite nutrient dense.  Definitely try adding them to your summer and fall diet if you can find or grow them.  You’ll find that the flavor makes them worth the effort, and the nutritional value only makes the thought of them sweeter.  Enjoy!

Learn more:
USDA plant database

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