Ground cherries, or “strawberry husk tomatoes,” are pretty common, but they’re humble little guys who tend to remain hidden. They are cute little fruits that look like yellow/green cherry tomatoes with an onion husk. Weird combination, right? Maybe, but they’re delicious!… If you eat them at the right time.
Growing Ground Cherries
You would grow ground cherries around the same time as tomatoes. They’re super easy to grow, and they yield huge amounts of berries. The flavor has a tart-sweet type of taste, and that’s what makes them perfect for pies, jams, and preserves. Ground cherries aren’t just for baking though – they’re just as delightful fresh from the garden!
The Scary Part
Something a little daunting about the fruit is the potential toxicity. The leaves and husk they produce, along with unripe berries, are toxic. It’s the type of plant you want to be wary of if you have small children or pets around that could get their hands on it. It’s easy to tell when the fruit is ready for eating though.
The fruit itself will fall from the plant before it’s actually ripe, but they will continue to mature if you went ahead and picked them from the area. Once they fall from the plant, it could take 1-2 additional weeks until the husk dries up and the fruit turns to a golden yellow, or sometimes an orange color.
I.D. The Ripeness
To easily identify if your ground cherries are still in their toxic state, all you have to do is check the color. If they’re still a light green color, they’re not ready. Wait until they achieve that yellow/orange color. When going to consume the fruit, first take a small bite. If it has a bitter aftertaste, cook it. If it’s still bitter after it’s been cooked, it’s advised not to continue eating the fruit. Maybe wait a couple more days and then try again on that batch.
Even though there are some risks involved with ground cherries, they do produce tons of fruit and they’re sure to look amazing in your garden. If you’ve grown ground cherries, let us know on Facebook and be sure to join our Group to share your photos and experience!