You've probably seen them at the farmers market or in a grocery store—those little husks with a bright orange fruit inside. But what exactly are these unique fruits? Are they an exotic new discovery from a remote corner of the world, or something that's been around for ages, just waiting to be discovered by the rest of us? The answer is surprisingly simple: the unique, tart-sweet fruit inside is called a groundcherry, and it's been around for centuries.
Groundcherries are a relative of the tomato, belonging to the nightshade family of fruits and vegetables. They grow in the form of small, bright orange fruits enclosed in papery husks that look reminiscent of cape gooseberries, but are smaller and more delicate. They are native to Central and South America, but can be found around the world in various climates that support their growth.
Though not widely known and eaten, groundcherries have actually been around since pre-Colombian times, and they were grown by the Aztecs and Incas. In America and Europe, they come and go, but the groundcherry can still be found in the markets of many countries.
The fruit itself is small and round, with an orange skin and yellow-white flesh that can be quite tart. The taste of the fruit is similar to a pineapple, and reminds some people of cherries. Some describe the flavor as combining the tartness of cranberries with the sweetness of apricots.
Groundcherries are rich in antioxidants and vitamins A and C, and have been linked to a number of health benefits. They are said to have anti-inflammatory properties, which may help reduce the symptoms of certain conditions such as asthma or arthritis. The high concentrations of vitamin C can help keep the immune system strong and maintain collagen production.
Traditional cooking uses of the groundcherry are mainly as jams, jellies and sauces, often with a sweet and tart flavor that provides a nice contrast to heavier meat dishes. They can also be eaten fresh, either on their own or as a component of salads or fruit cups. For a more contemporary twist, they can be blended into smoothies, used as a topping for ice cream or yogurt, or added to baked goods.
When buying groundcherries, look for husks that are still attached to the fruit, as they will help keep it fresh. The husks can usually be peeled off and discarded once the fruit is ready to be used. Keep the groundcherries stored in the refrigerator, as they cannot withstand too much heat. For this reason, they are best enjoyed fresh.
Groundcherries are a unique and flavorful fruit that have been around for centuries. With its sweet-tart flavor, antioxidant power and potential for a variety of culinary uses, the groundcherry is becoming increasingly more popular in many parts of the world. Whether you choose to eat them fresh or use them in dishes, the groundcherry is a tasty way to get some health benefits while also enjoying a unique flavor experience.
Groundcherries: A Journey from Field to Plate
Groundcherries are a unique and versatile type of fruit known for their flavor and versatility. Enjoyed in everything from jams, sauces, cobbler, and more, groundcherries are a small but mighty fruit with a big impact on the taste buds. But how exactly do these tasty treats make it from the field to the dinner plate? Unlike many other fruits, they don’t grow on trees or vines, so the journey from the farm to the kitchen involves a few extra steps. This blog post will explore exactly what goes into the journey from field to the dinner plate for a groundcherry.
The Groundcherry Plant
The first step in the journey of a groundcherry is the groundcherry plant itself. Groundcherries are in the genus Physalis, which is comprised of 90 species. The plant is actually a tender perennial belonging to the Solanaceae family, which also includes tomatillos and tomatoes, among other crops. Physalis plants grow either upright or sprawling, and are typically about 2 to 3 feet tall.
The leaves are broad and their color varies based on the species, though most are green with occasional species having purple leaves. The berries, however, are unique and immediately distinguishable. Unlike other berry plants, Physalis fruits are encased in a delicate leafy husk, earning the plant the moniker of “groundcherry”. The husk protects the small, round, orange-yellow fuschia groundcherry within, which is typically half an inch in diameter or less.
Harvesting groundcherries is fairly straightforward. Since the fruit is encased within its own husk, the main concern is ensuring that it is harvested at the right time- too soon or too late and the fruit won’t have its full flavor or sweetness. Additionally, harvesting too early and the fruit won’t be fully-developed, while harvesting too late and the fruit might easily fall out of the husk and become lost in the fields.
Groundcherries are ready to harvest when the husk has turned yellow and the groundcherry inside is bright orange and sweet-smelling. When harvested correctly, these fruits should be ready to eat (or at least ready for storage) soon after collection. Groundcherry plants are also tolerant of light frost and can even survive temperatures down to 20F. As long as the temperature isn’t too extreme, groundcherries can be harvested almost year-round.
Storage and Transportation
After harvest, groundcherries are usually stored in a cool, dry place, such as a refrigerator, until they are ready to be used. If kept in a cool, dark place and the air is allowed to circulate around the fruit, groundcherries can stay fresh for up to eight months. This allows them to be transported easily, either regionally or internationally, and makes them ideal for large-scale distribution.
Since groundcherries are encased in their own husk, they don’t need to be handled as carefully as other types of fruit. This makes them a much more practical choice for large scale shipping, allowing them to be shipped regionally or even internationally with ease. Many groundcherry growers ship their produce to grocery stores and retailers in other states or countries, allowing their unique and flavorful fruit to reach a wide variety of consumers.
When groundcherries arrive at their destination, they are usually already ripe and ready to be used. That being said, there are certain precautions that must be taken when handling groundcherries. For starters, the husk must be removed before the groundcherry can be eaten. This is often done by carefully peeling back the husk and discarding it.
Once the husk is removed the groundcherry should be washed before being consumed or cooked. This ensures that any dirt or other debris is removed from the fruit, as this is where most contaminants are typically found. After washing, the groundcherry is ready to be used however the cook chooses, whether it’s to be eaten raw, cooked, or incorporated into some larger dish.
Groundcherries are beloved by chefs and home cooks alike due to their versatile nature. They are a great addition to both sweet and savory dishes, adding flavor, texture, and nutrition to any plate. Some of the most popular ways to use groundcherries are adding them to jams, sauces, cobbler, or simply eating them raw as a snack.
When used in jams and sauces, groundcherries provide a unique, slightly tangy flavor while also acting as a natural thickening agent. In cobblers and other desserts, the groundcherries add a sweetness and depth of flavor that other fruits just can’t touch. When eaten raw, groundcherries make for a delicious snack, offering a sweet-tart flavor and enjoyable texture.
Regardless of how they are used, groundcherries are a great addition to the dining table. From their journey in the field to the dinner plate, groundcherries are an experience that diners of all types should get to enjoy.
Groundcherries are a unique and versatile type of fruit loved for their flavor and versatility. They offer a unique sweet-tart flavor that can be used in both sweet and savory dishes, making them a true all-star in the kitchen. Groundcherris are also quite easy to grow, harvest and transport, allowing them to be enjoyed around the world.
Overall, groundcherries provide a unique and enjoyable experience to any meal. Whether eaten raw, cooked, or incorporated into a dish, groundcherries are a true delight and their journey from the field to the dinner plate is one that should be celebrated.
|Vitamin A||0.036 mg|
|Vitamin C||0.011 grams|
|Vitamin B1||0.11 mg|
|Vitamin B2||0.04 mg|
|Vitamin B3||0.0028 grams|
Daily Value 1.3 g
Daily Value 0.018 g
Daily Value 1.25 g
|Total Sugars||0.131141 grams||