All my life I heard Pap talk about ground cherries. He told me they grew wild alongside most everyone’s garden and that they made a tasty snack for children who were working in the garden or playing close by.
There are several varieties of ground cherries, one of which is native to North America. Some folks call them husk tomatoes or tommy toe plants.
The plant usually grows fairly low to the ground, but this year mine are taller than they’ve ever been before. Once you have a plant you’re bound to have more the following year. Ground cherries are self sowers and one plant turns into many many volunteers in the years to come.
The cherries are covered with a husk. Once the husk has dried and turned a light brownish color they are ready to eat.
This is what they look like once you remove the husk. I’ve read a variety of different descriptions about how they taste-everything from citrus to pineapple. There’s a sweetness to ground cherries along with a note of acidity or tang.
A few summers ago, Jim Casada asked if I had ever heard of ground cherries. I said “Yes, but I’ve never seen them or tasted them.”
Jim packaged up a box full and mailed them to me. I was so excited to open the box and see what Pap had been talking about all those years. And after Jim explained to me I could grow my own the following summer by simply throwing a handful or two out in the garden I was doubly excited. Jim’s explanation was right and every year the ground cherries spread farther around my garden.
Have you ever had a flash of a memory that is so real yet so fuzzy you just can’t put your finger on exactly where or when it took place?
As soon as the first ground cherry rolled out of Jim’s box into my hand I had a flash of memory.
I was in the garden with Big Grandma (Pap’s grandmother Carrie-my great grandmother) and she handed me a little round yellow ball and encouraged me to eat it, but I refused, at least I think I did. I would only have been 3 or 4 years old. Big Grandma died before I started school.
Funny all those years I listened to Pap’s memories of ground cherries-when my own ground cherry memory was hiding somewhere deep down inside just waiting for Jim’s generosity to bring it to light.
Have you ever tasted ground cherries?