ground cherries in husks photo by vsimon
Salsa is perfect in the heat of the summer. Super fresh produce, raw, ready in a few minutes. No need to heat up the kitchen. And in this case, no need to venture to the store. We use what is ripe in the garden.
Have you ever heard of ground cherries?
We grow the usual- beans, tomatoes, cucumbers. And the unusual.
We ran across a ground cherry plant at the nursery this spring and said, “there must be room for that.” And we are delighted with our ground cherries. These are new to us, the old timers are more likely to know about ground cherries than we are. They probably would not think of salsa though.
Ground cherries grow in their own package. A papery husk protects them. It might be edible (I do not know), but I doubt it is palatable. Pop the golden colored fruit out of the husk before eating. Green fruits are not ripe yet.
What do they taste like?
We have been trying to describe the flavor to each other.
|Sweet? Yes, moderately, not a sweet as a grape.|
|Cream? She says yes, he says no.|
|Tomato-ish? He says yes, she says, “now that you mention it”.|
You can see it is a bit difficult to nail down this complex flavor. It could pair well with sweet or savory dishes.
What could you do with ground cherries?
Jam for sure. A sauce for pork tenderloin could work. Of course, pie or tarts. Mixed into coffee cakes. Covered with dark chocolate. How do you use them?
ground cherry plant photo by vsimon
How to grow ground cherries.
They are easy, easy, easy. Plant a small plant in a sunny spot. Give it plenty of room. In Wisconsin, fruits start to ripen in late July, and continue until frost. We started with one plant. I suspect ground cherries will be like dill. You only need to plant it once. Next year volunteers will sprout all over the garden. Right now that sounds appealing to me. I will let you know if I change my mind next year.
How to harvest.
Ripe ground cherries fall off the plant and land on the ground. Hence the name. The papery husk keeps it clean. Simply pick up the yellow ripe fruit. In theory, these “cherries” are easy to reach, so this could be a good job for short people.
But it feels like I am doing yoga in the garden while harvesting ground cherries. There is a lot of twisting and reaching to get to all of them out from under the sprawling plant. At first, we did this about every three days. Now we harvest every day.
We have been harvesting ground cherries for about two weeks now. First we made a simple, right from the garden salsa, see recipe below. Then we added them to mixed fruit salad, and liked it. Now we keep them in a bowl on the counter and eat them out of hand. We hope to harvest enough for jam or chutney soon.
About the other salsa ingredients
We also are trying carrot peppers. This is a hot pepper that looks like a small carrot. What you think is carrot in the photo is really the pepper. I like sweet and heat, so added it to the ground cherries. It was really hot. Not as hot as a habanero, but plenty hot. So I added diced cucumber to cool it down. And cilantro because I love it. Hot, cold, sweet, heat, herbal. It’s all good. This is a perfect fresh side dish for a Mexican menu.
ground cherry and cucumber salsa photo by vsimon
Ground Cherry and Cucumber Salsa
|1/2 cup husked and diced ground cherries||70 gm|
|1 cup peeled, seeded, diced cucumbers||180 gm|
|1 carrot pepper, a few slices for garnish,
the rest diced fine
|1/4 cup chopped cilantro||15 gm|
Mix it up. Any leftovers keep for a day or two in the fridge.
You may not have access to ground cherries this year. I am not likely to find them at my supermarket, but they might be available at a farmers market. They are fun to play with and are worth planting in your garden next year. Stay tuned for a few more ground cherry recipes.
*This post will be submitted to Grow Your Own #33, a twice a month recipe roundup, hosted this time by MomGateway. Andrea of Andrea’s Recipes started Grow Your Own nearly two years ago. Grow Your Own celebrates foods we grow or raise ourselves and the dishes we make using our homegrown products. Reason enough for a celebration!