Ground Cherry? Where have you been all of my life?
Grown just like a tomato, this gem of the garden is a delightful addition to any garden. If you love to make jams and pies but don’t have room for many large bushes, this could be an option for you. So what is it?
You can put Ground Cherry anywhere you would put a tomato plant. The differences are small, but worth mentioning. For one thing, Ground Cherry is quick to germinate and grows faster than tomatoes. Another slight difference is Ground Cherry stems are stiff and rarely if ever, need to be staked. And I guess the most important difference is that the fruit grows in a paper like husk.
They remind me of the Chinese lanterns…fun. Oh, and they have pretty flowers too. A ground cherry by your eggplants make a lovely row.
The fruit is a smooth berry, resembling a miniature spherical yellow tomato. Removed from its bladder-like calyx, it is about the size of a marble, about 1-2 cm in diameter. Like a tomato, it contains numerous small seeds. It is bright yellow to orange in color, and it is sweet when ripe, with a characteristic, mildly tart flavor, making it ideal for snacks, pies or jams. It is popular in salads and fruit salads, sometimes combined with avocado.
Now the fun part. There are loads of things you can do with ground cherries. One thing I love is that they can be used in sweet dishes and savory dishes. For the most part I use them in any situation I would use other berries or fruit, jam, preserves, pie, covered in chocolate and just eaten fresh.
So, here are ground cherries three ways. Not knowing the interest levels of canning, I’ve decided to give you a pie recipe, a cupcake recipe and an excellent salad that is always a show stopper.
Ground Cherry Pie
- 2 1/2 cups ground cherries
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 (9 inch) pie shell
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons white sugar
- 2 tablespoons butter
- Preheat oven 425°
- Carefully remove husks and wash cherries, put them in a medium sized bowl and set aside.
- In small bowl, mix together brown sugar and 1 Tb. flour
- Put cherries in your unbaked pie shell, sprinkle sugar/flour mix over the cherries
- Sprinkle water over cherries
- In small bowl combine butter, cut into ¼ cubes, 3 Tbs. white sugar, 3 Tbs. flour
- Crumble on top of cherries
- Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes, reduce temperature to 375º and continue to bake for 25 minutes.
- Remove from oven, allow to cool
Ground Cherry Cupcakes
For the ground cherries:
3/4 pound ground cherries, de-husked and rinsed
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Butter for greasing the baking dish or cake pan
For the clafoutis batter:
2 eggs, separated
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup heavy cream
Pinch of salt
Butter for greasing the ramekins
- Preheat the oven to 350°.
- Grease a small baking pan or cake pan large enough to hold all of the ground cherries in a single layer.
- Combine the ground cherries, 1/3 cup sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice in the greased baking pan.
- Bake for 15 minutes, or until the ground cherries are soft and the sugar has dissolved.
- Drain the ground cherries, reserving any syrup remaining. Turn the oven up to 375°.
- Lightly grease the ramekins with butter. Distribute the ground cherries evenly among the ramekins.
- Combine the egg yolks and the 3 tablespoons sugar, and whisk together until the mixture lightens in color and looks creamy.
- Stir in the flour, vanilla, and heavy cream and whisk until just combined.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or using a hand mixer), combine the egg whites and a pinch of salt. Mix on medium-high speed until the whites reach the soft peak stage (when you lift the whisk out of the egg white mixture, the whites will form a peak that sort of droops over).
- Add a couple tablespoons (you don’t have to measure, just estimate) of the egg whites to the batter and gently fold in to lighten; then gently but thoroughly fold in the remaining egg whites.
- Divide the batter evenly among the ramekins.
- Put the ramekins on a cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes, or until the clafoutis have browned and puffed up. (They will deflate as they cool.)
- Serve warm with a drizzle of the warm reserved syrup on top. A little powdered sugar would look nice, too.
Ground Cherry Salad/Salsa
- 1 lbs of ripe ground cherries, halved (about 2 cups)
½ lb of ripe Roma or cherry tomatoes, diced (about 1 cup)
1 large jalapeno chili, seeded, with the flesh finely minced
½ cup minced red onion
1 small clove garlic, minced
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
½ to 1 tsp. fresh ground sea salt
pinch ground pepper
2-6 tsp lime juice (1-2 limes)
Sugar to taste (up to 1 tsp)