I was at the PSU Farmer’s Market (which is open in downtown Portland every Saturday from 8:30 am-2:00 pm) on a mission to find an interesting item to cook with. While meandering through the booths these beautiful paper lantern like plants caught my eye. I tasted one and it was sweet and slightly tart like a cherry or plum with a slight tomato aftertaste. I asked the vendor how they are normally cooked and she told me that she just eats them raw as she popped another one in her mouth and smiled. I instantly bought a pint box of them to make some salsa.
Just in case you want to pick some up, I got mine from the Rick Steffen Farm Booth and each container of ground cherries cost $3. They were the only booth selling ground cherries that day. According to the farmer, although the farm isn’t certified organic, their ground cherries aren’t sprayed and grow like tomatillos, loving the sun at their farm.
I did some research and this fruit has traveled the globe! It originated in Brazil and made its way to Peru and Chile where it was named Physalis peruviana. Later it was brought to Europe, Australia, and even Hawaii. Now it can be found around the world in various tropical or subtropical environments. And with its travels, it has picked up many different names like: Goldenberry, Poha berry, Peruvian cherry, Pok Pok and Cape Gooseberry.
Here is a basic nutitional snapshot based on if you ate 1 cup (140 g) of them:
- Calories- 74 kcal
- Fat- 0.98 g
- Carbohydrate- 15.68 g
- Calcium- 13 mg
- Iron- 1.4 mg
- Vitamin A – 50 µg
- Vitamin C – 15.4 mg
- Thiamine – .154 mg
- Riboflavin- .056 mg
- Niacin – 3.92 mg
Based on the color and some of the vitamins, these ground cherries look like a sweet source of antioxidants!
In my research I also found that ground cherries can be eaten raw, cooked into pie fillings, made into preserves, dried like raisins, and dipped in chocolate. Hipgirlshome.com does a great job on explaining how to make preserves using ground cherries in this recipe:
Ground Cherries Preserves
yield 4 quarter-pint jars
1. Place the following in a preserving pan (a heavy, bottomed, stainless steel or enameled cast iron pot) and place over med-low heat the following ingredients:
- 1lb 9oz husked ground cherries (which was 5 pints’ worth)
- 1 small lemon juiced (about 3 Tbs)
- 2 cups sugar
2. Remove pot from heat once all sugar granules are dissolved, pour into a bowl and place in fridge with a piece of parchment paper and a plate to cover top of bowl.
3. The next day, pour the mixture back into your preserving pan and bring to a boil. It will take about 8-12 minutes for your preserves to set, depending on the type of pan you use and possibly the sugar.
4. [optional] Mash some or all of the ground cherries with a potato masher to whatever consistency you prefer. I like to do this because it varies the consistency of the spread and pops out the seeds from about half of the berries.
5. Ladle hot preserves into hot jars and seal in waterbath (please refer to instructions for this in many of the other Canning & Home Food Preserving tagged posts) or ladle into one or two larger jars and place in the fridge; it will keep (if you don’t gobble it all up) anywhere between 3-6 months.
However, I was still determined to make some salsa. Here is the recipe explaining what I did using the ingredients I had at home:
Ground Cherry Salsa
- 3/4 cup ground cherries husked and quartered
- a bunch of chopped cilantro
- 3 cloves roasted garlic finely diced
- 1/2 roasted jalapeno pepper finely diced
- 1/2 onion cubed
- 1/2 lemon squeezed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- cut the ground cherries, cilantro, garlic, jalapeno and onions and put them all into a bowl and mix it with 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- Slowly add lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste
This was my first time making salsa, and usually when I think of salsa I envision earthy red tomatoes with hints of garlic, onion and pepper. This came out totally different, but better than I imagined. It tasted fresh with the mix of cilantro and sweetness from the ground cherries. Then the roasted jalapeño gave it a nice bite at the end. While this was all happening, the lemon brought all the flavors together making it taste like salsa. One thing that surprised me was how long it took to prepare the ground cherries. After individually popping them out of the their papery shells, I also had to take them them one by one and cut them into quarters. If I did this again I’d probably just cut them in half or use a food processor instead. What’s great about this dish is that it’s fresh, tasty and showcases the flavor of the ground cherries.
Ground cherries taste delicious raw. I can see myself putting it in a salad, on yogurt, or even in a sandwhich with cheese. I’m also looking forwarding to buying another batch to see what they are like when cooked.
Until we meet again,
Blackwood M. All About Ground Cherries | Healthier Steps. Healthier Steps. http://healthiersteps.com/all-about-ground-cherries/. Published August 19, 2013. Accessed July 18, 2016.
CAPE GOOSEBERRY. Fruit Facts. https://www.crfg.org/pubs/ff/cape-gooseberry.html. Accessed July 17, 2016.
Full Report (All Nutrients): 09138, Groundcherries, (cape-gooseberries or poha), raw . National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28 . https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/2245?fg=. Accessed July 16, 2016.
Payne K. Ground Cherries Preserves. Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking – Get hip to your home, kitchen and garden with Kate Payne. http://www.hipgirlshome.com/blog/2011/7/19/ground-cherries-preserves.html. Accessed July 17, 2016.