The Ground Cherry, native to Latin America, is a small orange fruit that looks like a cherry tomato in size and shape enclosed in a light brown paper-like husk. It is related to the tomatillo and the Cape Gooseberry. Ground cherries are found in old fields, meadows, along roadsides, and in waste places throughout the East, from Canada to Florida.
The flavor of ground cherry is somewhat sweet and tangy much like a combination of the flavor of a pineapple and a tomato. Once extracted from its husk, it may be eaten raw or used in salads, desserts, as a flavoring, and in jams and jellies. They can also be dried and eaten much like raisins or other small dried fruit.
In Chinese medicine, ground cherry is used as a remedy for abscesses, coughs, fevers and sore throats, among others. It is very low in calories and fat, and contains no cholesterol, perfect for weight loss diets. The ground cherry provides a good source of vitamins A, B3 and C. Ground cherry also contains pectin, which helps regulate our blood sugar.
You may find ground cherries in farmers’ markets and roadside stands on warm October days. They should be bought ripe, that is, the fruit should be orange in color. Unlike a lot of berry sized fruits, kept in its husk, the ground cherry should stay fresh for several weeks.
Image by Pen Waggener available under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license
Ground Cherry Pie
For the pie crust
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes
4 -5 tablespoons ice water
1 teaspoon salt
For the pie filling
2 1/2 cups of ground cherries, husks removed
1/2 cup agave syrup
2 tablespoons water
2 1/2 tablespoons flour
Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 50 mins
Total Time: 1 hr 10 mins
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
2. For the crust: Combine flour and salt in a food processor.
3. Slowly add cubes of chilled butter.
4. Slowly add ice water until the dough forms a ball.
5. Roll out the dough for the pie crust bottom and place in a pie pan.
6. There is enough dough to make a lattice or rustic top crust.
7. For the filling: Mix cherries, agave syrup, water, and flour in a bowl.
8. Pour into pie pan on top of bottom crust.
9. Make lattice or rustic top crust and place on top of filling.
10. Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes. Then lower the oven temperature to 300 degrees and bake for 30 minutes, until the pie filling is set.
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