I think you know how we feel about cherries in my household, but have you ever heard of ground cherries? I hadn’t, until Mama brought some home last summer. She had intended to make jam with them, as they’re naturally high in pectin (which is what makes jams and fruit pies gel), but I had so much fun unwrapping them and eating them that she never had a chance.
This summer, however, Mama is growing ground cherries with a garden club where she works. Each week, she brings home tons of them! (They’re about as prolific as a cherry tomato plant, if that gives you any idea of their abundance.) I visited her and saw that the bush is shrubby with lots of strong vines that you have to pick up in order to harvest the cherries. As they’ve been ripening over the past couple months, Mama had again intended to make a double-cherry jam with regular cherries and these, but, as I noted, I really like to eat them on their own.
A ground cherry looks a lot like a tomatillo in that it grows in a papery husk. Unlike a tomatillo, however, you don’t want to eat a ground cherry when it’s green. Wait until it turns a nice golden orange, and you’ll taste a tiny bit of sunshine when you pop it in your mouth. They’re sort of sweet and sort of tart and sort of buttery.
If all this is new to you, there’s still time to get a quart from your local farmers’ market. Mama adds them to fruit salads and tops green salads with them. Maybe she’ll get around to adding them to a tomato pie this week…but not if I get to them first.