Appalachian Food Gardening

Ground Cherry Pie

Pie made with ground cherries

Ground cherries grow wild around and in our garden areas. The plants always produce, but this year they’ve made a bumper crop.

I usually eat them out of hand as a snack. And when I say I, I mean only me. The rest of my bunch doesn’t care for their flavor.

Wanting to use some of this year’s bounty I found a recipe for ground cherry pie. You can see it here.

I made the pie over the weekend, and while it was good, I don’t believe I’ll make it very often. You can only eat so much pie and this one didn’t rank near the top of the list of pies I make.

If you’re not familiar with ground cherries go here.

If you have any ground cherry recipes, please share them.

Last night’s video: I am from Canning Jars Growing up in Appalachia.


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  • Reply
    Kathy Kelly
    October 7, 2021 at 7:50 pm

    The ground cherries look a lot like what we call tomatillos. I am unsure if it is the same thing. If they are they make a great salsa.

  • Reply
    October 5, 2021 at 3:05 am

    We call them gooseberries.
    Pie, crumble, compote..
    I always loved the paper wrappers as a kid. Fascinating.
    New Zealand.

  • Reply
    Betsy Wilson
    October 5, 2021 at 12:32 am

    I am not familiar with Ground Cherries…Guess they didn’t grow in Southern Okla. We did have mulberry trees and we climbed these and feasted on their fruit. They had some little white mites on them, but we just blew them off and ate them anyway. Our homeplace had a fruit orchard with peach trees, apple trees, cherry trees and Indian peaches. Outside the orchard we had blackberry and dew berry patches and a big plum thicket and a large fig tree. We didn’t have pear trees, but had access to some. The grapes we had were wild growing: Muskedines and Possum Grapes. Did your Mom ever make Green grape cobbler? It is wonderful! Mama made every description of jams and jellies.

    • Reply
      October 5, 2021 at 7:57 am

      Betsy-I’ve never had green grape cobbler but I bet it’s tasty 🙂

  • Reply
    Joe F.
    October 4, 2021 at 2:25 pm

    There is indeed a bumper crop this year but they seem a bit smaller than normal, for some reason. Just finished mowing and haying this one particular field where they are in abundance every year, this year being no exception.
    I think an earlier commenter or two cleared up a mystery for me: I’ve always wondered as to the relationship they have with the similar looking, only much larger, tomatillos, used to make salsa verde. Now I know.
    Also in abundance this year: persimmons. Whatcha got for those?

    • Reply
      October 4, 2021 at 5:40 pm

      Joe-I’m not sure if there’s a bumper crop of persimmons here or not-I’ll have to do some investigating 🙂

  • Reply
    Rick Shepherd
    October 4, 2021 at 1:38 pm

    Excellent Ground Cherry post along with the recipe for making a pie, Tipper!….I sent each to my daughter, Cana, in Indiana and they made both our day that much better!…..I remember seeing Ground Cherries growing over the years on my hikes but never knew what they were!… Thank You!…..Rick

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    October 4, 2021 at 1:15 pm

    I’m with the bunch this time. I don’t really care for the taste of ground cherries.

  • Reply
    October 4, 2021 at 12:57 pm

    First time I ever heard of ground cherries was on one of your videos. I’ve never seen or tasted ground cherries. I’ll just take your word for it that they are good. If I ever come across any at a farmers market, I’ll give them a try. Thank you for sharing!

  • Reply
    October 4, 2021 at 10:43 am

    As a child I often joined a group of cousins and young uncles along a dirt road eating different wild berries and also the ground cherries and Mayapple. We also raided many rhubarb patches eating the stalks raw, and I was surprised when I learned later how toxic the leaves are. It is my habit to sometimes research what I read about in your blog, It seems the Mayapple plant is very toxic except for fruit once it ripens. We ate loads of green apples, and speaking from experience that did something we called “edging our teeth” and sometimes resulted in a stomach ache. I have not heard of teeth getting edged since those long ago days when we ate one too many green apples. As far as I know we all survived even eating something we called sour weed. We learned this from other children back then. I never really cared for the taste of the ground cherries or Maypples, but some of the kids loved them. I am so glad to see in your blog such a variety of everything that makes up Appalachia.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    October 4, 2021 at 10:35 am

    Tipper–The pie looks beautiful but I rather think your experience with it turned out similar to one I had in making a fig cobbler earlier this year. The cobbler was perfectly edible, looked fine in the pan, but was a far cry from a blackberry cobbler.

    One way I do enjoy ground cherries, beyond eating them right in the garden, is to chop them up with other ingredients such as cilantro and just a wee bit of hot pepper fresh from the garden to make salsa.

    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    October 4, 2021 at 10:04 am

    I did not know those were call ground cherries. We have those around here but don’t care for them.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    October 4, 2021 at 8:40 am

    Well you can chalk it up to experience. I’m guessing you are part of a select group. You can use the experience in your Appalachian cooking class.

    You sent me some ground cherry seed once. I planted them but they didn’t take. I still have some and it’s possibly time to try again. Too wet just at present. Glad you reminded me. Just wonder if I should wait until spring though.

    You remind me to of pennyroyal. It doesn’t have a usable fruit but it sure smells good. I had some mysteriously appear here a few years ago then disappear again. Now if only the dog fennel would disappear …

  • Reply
    Margie G
    October 4, 2021 at 8:30 am

    When I saw the orangish color of your pie, I knew I had to find an image (or 20) of ground cherries. They are a nightshade fruit like tomato and are “kin” to the tomato. They’re pest resistant and easy to grow. I’d say a tomato pudding recipe or cold gispacho is in order with ground cherries. I must say in their hulls, they look like Japanese Lanterns and they’re very attractive fruit indeed. Id like to have them at my place for sure! (Wont ever never go to THEIR tube anymore so there’s that.)

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    October 4, 2021 at 8:01 am

    Tipper, when I came by yesterday I think you were working on the computer, as you often are, I saw the pie on the counter and tried it. I thought it was pretty good, the Deer Hunter told me it was made from Ground Cherries and I was surprised. When I come by I always check out the counter to see what goodies you have made and then , of course, I have to try them out!
    You are an excellent cook and never afraid to try something new!

  • Reply
    October 4, 2021 at 7:43 am

    I tried eating them and didn’t particularly care for the flavor either. Many years ago I thought they were poisonous just like sand briar berries.

    This is off subject but the other day I read you could eat buckeye nuts if you boiled them for 15 minutes to kill the poison. I don’t trust that enough to try it. When I was a boy and found buckeyes half eaten by squirrels I was told that squirrels only ate the nonpoisonous side. That didn’t make good sense. I figure the squirrel knew when to quit or starting getting sick.

    • Reply
      Ron Stephens
      October 4, 2021 at 12:03 pm

      AW, I heard that “one half poison” folktale also when I was growing up. The poisonous compound is “aesculin” or also called “esculin” . Wikipedia has a very detailed biochemical writeup that goes over my head pretty much. Says aesculin can cause stomach ache, nausea, disorientation and “even death at high doses”. Since the meaning of “high” is in proportion to body weight, a squirrel would get there a lot faster than we would. Maybe, as you suggest, they just “know” half a nut is enuff for them. So the ‘one half of the nut is poison’ could be more like ‘more than one half a nut is poisonous to a squirrel’ regardless of which half. Guess the point for the kids was, ‘Don’t be eatin’ these for chestnuts.’

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