The ground cherries are coming. Ground cherries actually aren’t cherries at all but rather members of the Solanaceae family, also known as Nightshade. The family includes bell peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, tobacco, potatoes, petunia, and more. With such a wide-spread group you’d think the whole family was adopted but not so.
Richard picked a half-gallon or so of them a few days ago, enough to eat a few and freeze a couple of pints. Last night Alayna and I picked about 5 gallons more. The amount of picking we’ve done so far amounts to a first crop since the plants will likely keep on producing until the frost. The “cherries” are encased in a papery husk, similar to Chinese lanterns, also members of the Solanaceae family.
The berries are about a half-inch in diameter and have a lovely yellow color when fully ripe. I eat some of them when they’re still showing a green tinge and the taste is just fine. Some say they taste like pineapple but I think they taste like nothing other than themselves. They are an excellent treat on breakfast cereal and equally good eaten as a snack.
This was only our second year of growing ground cherries and we’ve been far more successful than last year. Last year, I planted the seeds directly in the ground, in a semi-shaded plot. This year I started plants indoors early and planted them out in direct sun. That made all the difference.
We’re looking forward to making preserves in the fall, as well as freezing more of the whole berries. I look forward to eating this crop all winter and well into the spring.