I first discovered ground cherries over 25 years ago in Madison, Wisconsin at the stellar farmers’ market that encircles the Capitol every Saturday morning, rain or shine, drawing oodles of farmers, bakers, and flower growers from hours away to sell their wares to the always huge crowds.
I was intrigued by the tiny tomatillo-looking fruits, and the farmer handed me one to taste. I peeled open the cherry-tomato-sized berry with a papery husk to reveal a shiny yellow pearl. I popped it in my mouth and bit down… Wow! Sweet, fruity, fun, with a sweet and tart flavor that tastes like a cross between a super sweet tomato (like sungolds) and pineapple.
Ground cherries, also known as husk cherries, or ground tomatoes, are related to the tomatillo, and hence the tomato. They are named for the fact that they fall to the ground from their bush when ripe. I sometimes get a texture reminiscent of kiwi. I have read descriptions claiming a mango or tropical flavor and grape texture, also. They are either like a lot of different fruits, or unlike anything else. You be the judge.
I have seen a number of ideas for what to do with ground cherries, but have only ever eaten them out of hand because they are so good as is and I’ve never gotten them in such abundance that I had to think of something else to do with them.