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.
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Little green pods that hang like lanterns.
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Until the fall on the ground and look dead.
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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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