Ground Cherries

We've only learned about these last season when "the plant lady" from a local farmer's market we vendor at gave me a plant.  She guaranteed me that the children would like it.

The potted plant


Ground cherries are of the Physalis species.  Physalis means bladder and is included in the nightshade family.  A ground cherry can be identified quite easily due to its' most prominent feature, the large papery husk which partly or fully encloses the fruit.

She went on to tell me that when the fruit falls to the "ground" it is good to eat.  But you must take it out of the husk.  It will be like a cherry tomato but sweeter, like a berry.  "Trust me the kids will love em".

As the season progressed we reaped much fruit from this little plant that I transplanted into a cut off, empty, gallon, milk container.  It kind of surprised me. But upon researching them, I found that they grow very well in poor soil and pots.


Then one day my 4 year old (at the time) came running in to tell me that she found groundcherry growing in the field.  I immediately asked if she ate one.  We have a rule that you do not eat something wild unless you can 100% identify it and well, she had.  Both.  She thought she had positively identified it and she ate it.  Being a concerned mama, I went out and investigated to see if I was going to have more actions to take, activated charcoal possibly?

Well, to my astonishment, it was indeed a true ground cherry.

in the field

wild ground cherry, the bugs must like it too
     
I prefer to describe them as natural "starburst", the Creator's candy.  Not only do they taste great they are packed full of B vitamins as well as C and A.  Ground cherries also have a significant amount of calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, bioflavonoids, protein, and fiber.  Thus it is a rich source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds.

         Yet another "super-food" right in the back yard! \o/


*Note* Ground cherries are usually ripe when they fall from the plant to the ground.  Husks are not edible.  The fruit inside the husk tends to turn yellowish, orange or even reddish depending on the variety, which are many, when ripe.  The ripe fruit can be eaten raw or cooked.  But they can be potentially poisonous when consumed un-ripe.  Remember they are from the night shade family.  They will taste more bitter than tart when they are un-ripe and they will more than likely be green.          

 
 

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