August – Ground Cherries

My tomatoes are growing like trees, and my cherries are growing on the ground. It’s like we live on an upside down farm.
A couple of years ago we were enjoying a wonderful evening on a lake in Switzerland with Chris’ family where my dinner was served with a garnish of a tiny fruit peeking out of a papery husk. It looked a little like a miniature orange tomatillo. I eyed it skeptically and asked what it was.  Finding an English translation for this phenomenon escaped us –
but I tasted it and it was…indescribable. I think I ate the garnish off of everyone’s plate that night while I tried to place what the exotic flavor was – something tropical, or maybe apricot? Kind of sweet, but a little tart? Sort of like a grape or a cherry or a  tomato.  It was a mystery.
This spring I went to the Philadelphia Farm and Food Festival and I spent a lot of time at the “unusual garden seed booth” sorting through all the tiny packets of seeds for  something that I could still wedge into garden. And there it was! Seeds for that mystery fruit.  They called it a ground cherry.
I brought home a packet, started them in my greenhouse and transplanted them to the garden. I’ve been watching as these little bushes developed little green “lanterns” that hang from under the leaves. And then I forgot about them – because I’ve been busy canning tomatoes and fighting back the squash vines and freezing green beans. The other day I was in the garden and there were all these little papery shells laying on the ground. Oh NO! They’re dead, I thought. I gathered them up into a bowl and
brought them in the house where I simultaneously peeled back the paper husk and googled what to do with them now.
Apparently this is how they grow. When they drop to the ground – they are ready to eat –
hence the name ground cherry. When I peeled back the husk, there was the bright orange tiny little cherry bursting with a flavor that is still a mystery.
I guess I’ll just keep eating them until I can explain what they taste like.
Little green pods that hang like lanterns.
Until the fall on the ground and look dead.
Peel the husks back and look at those sweet little gems!

7 thoughts on “August – Ground Cherries

  1. Schön, dass wir euch in der Schweiz inspirieren (anregen) konnten! Eine schöne Ernte die ihr da habt. Übrigens, bei uns heissen diese Dinger –> Physalis.


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