When we think of cherries, we think of bright red fruits hanging in clusters. Or, perhaps we think of the fruits adorning our favorite sundaes and cocktails!
One type of cherry that you might not have heard of is ground cherry. Ground cherries are a delicious type of fruit that, while different from their red counterparts, are still quite tasty.
Ground cherries have a tart, fruity flavor with tropical notes. Their aroma is quite sweet and they have a sweet aftertaste to them.
What Is a Ground Cherry?
Ground cherries are a unique fruit with a papery, outer husk. The fruits look similar to that of a small tomatillo, but they taste quite different.
Ground cherries are grown during the summer and fall months, from August to October. They’re grown on trees, but fall to the ground when ripe, which is where they got their name.
Ground cherries are native to both North and South America, but are a fairly obscure fruit. As such, you won’t necessarily find them in your local grocery store.
If you’re hunting down these tasty treats, however, you’re likely to find them in a specialty market or organic food shop. Mom’s and Whole Foods are two places that have been known to stock these fruits.
Since ground cherries are usually sold in their husks, you’ll want to keep an eye out for their papery exterior. The husks sometimes have a sticky substance on them, which you’ll need to wash off before they’re ready to eat.
What Does a Ground Cherry Taste Like?
Ground cherries have a decidedly tropical flavor, even though they can be grown outside the tropics. They have a flavor that’s a blend of strawberries, pineapples, and green grapes.
The flavor tastes vaguely tropical and decidedly aromatic. It tends to be quite tart and citrusy when it first hits your tongue, but has sweet and floral notes as part of the aftertaste.
Health Benefits of Ground Cherries
A single ground cherry contains just 1 gram of fat and 53 calories. That makes them a super healthy choice for anyone wanting to watch what they eat or to slim down!
Aside from this, ground cherries contain tons of helpful nutrients. These fruits have Vitamin A, which helps with cell growth and development and supports a health reproductive system.
Ground cherries also contain Vitamin C, a vitamin commonly associated with better immune health. Vitamin C is also great because it serves as a natural antihistamine and is an antioxidant.
Four B vitamins, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Cobalamin, and Niacin, are all present in ground cherries as well. These vitamins are important for keeping your metabolism strong, improving cardiac health, and improving cell renewal.
How to Eat Ground Cherries
If you’re unsure of how to eat ground cherries, you’ve got plenty of options available to you. Most people simply remove the outer husk and eat these tart treats raw.
Anyone who loves raw ground cherries will love using them as toppings. Ground cherries are often added to salads, thrown into yogurt parfaits or atop cereal, and used as garnishes in cocktails and drinks.
Another great way to enjoy ground cherries is to make them into jam. There are tons of sweet jams and tart preserves that you can make out of ground cherries.
People also use ground cherries in baking. Tarts and pies are some of the most common dishes featuring ground cherries, as their semi-sweet flavor cuts through the sugary crusts on these dishes.
How to Store Ground Cherries
If you’ve bought ground cherries and don’t want to eat them right away, you have a few storage options available. As long as you keep the fruits in their papery husks, they’ll last between 7-10 days in the refrigerator.
Just note that ground cherries are sometimes sold with moisture on their husks. You’ll need to fully dry them off before storing them. Otherwise, the fruit will decay faster.
Still not ready to eat them right away? You can store ground cherries in the freezer, too!
To freeze these fruits, you’ll need to peel the husks off of them. Then, rinse the fruits with water and pat them dry.
Once the fruits are dried, place them on a cookie sheet and freeze them until they’re hard. Once they’re fully frozen, you can store them in sealed containers or zip-lock bags for up to several months.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you still have some lingering questions about ground cherries? We’ve got answers!
Is a ground cherry a tomato?
Because of their round shape and orange-red color, ground cherries sometimes get mistaken for tomatoes or even for tomatillos. Despite their similar appearance, however, these are three different fruits.
How do you tell when a ground cherry is ripe?
If you bought unripe ground cherries and aren’t sure when they’re ready to eat there’s a simple way to tell when they’re ready for consumption. Ground cherries turn a pale orange or yellow color when ripe, and their husks become dry, too.
What is another name for a ground cherry?
Ground cherries are known by quite a few names. Some people refer to them as physalis while others call them cape gooseberries. They’re also known as uchuva in latino communities.
Is a ground cherry a fruit or vegetable?
Thanks to their tomato-like appearance, some people get confused about whether ground cherries are fruits or veggies. Similar to tomatoes and plantains, however, ground cherries are actually considered fruits.