Updated: Feb 23, 2022
My friend, Sally, found these unusual fruits in a green market in Northeast Pennsylvania. When she presented them to me, my reaction was - WHAT are they - and how do you eat them? They’re called ground cherries. They are a small orange fruit, similar in size, taste and shape to a cherry tomato. To eat them, remove the papery husk and simply pop them in your mouth. They taste like a mix between a tomato and pineapple. Given that they look like a gorgeous orange garnet, why not treat them as the gem they are. Ground cherries are very versatile. They can be used in sweet or savory dishes. For instance, halve them and put them in salads, make a salsa and add to a meat dish, or make an upside-down cake. I made a typical bruschetta - chopped the cherries, added olive oil, salt and pepper (or whatever). On a crusty slice of French bread - delightful! Thank you, Sally!!! *Ground cherries typically bear fruit for about 70 days after planting (late July to August in most regions). They continue to bear fruit until frost. The fruits have the peculiar characteristic of falling to the ground before they are ripe. Simply gather them up after they drop and keep them at room temperature in a basket without removing their husks. In a week or less, their color will deepen from light yellow to the warm apricot gold that signals ripeness. Ground cherries stored in their husks will stay fresh for up to three months if placed in a mesh bag and kept in a cool place (50 degrees). They are native in many parts of the United States and often grow in fields and alongside roads. The plants have large, deep green leaves and tons of pale yellow flowers that develop into cherry-sized fruits.