Did you grow ground cherries (sometimes referred to as cape gooseberries or husk cherries) this year?
If you did, I’d bet you’re up to your eyeballs in pale yellow, papery husked goodness right about now, aren’t you?
And I’ll bet you’re wondering what on earth you’re going to do with all of them? Those little buggers seem to multiply when your back is turned.
Or perhaps you stumbled across these odd little fruit-vegetable-berry things at a local market, and now you’re wondering what to do with these sweet snacks. You know, aside from slowly devouring them all one handful at a time.
I’ve got a few ideas that will help you put a serious dent in your ground cherry harvest.
Some recipes you can enjoy now, and some will help you enjoy these delightful golden treats long into the winter.
And one idea is straight from a farmer who swears he knows the best way to enjoy ground cherries.
Get your apron on and start pulling those husks off.
Don’t forget to save some seeds to grow next year’s harvest. If you’ve never grown ground cherries, it’s pretty easy to do. You can read all about it here.
1. Cast Iron Skillet Ground Cherry Crisp
Getting started, I think it’s essential to start on the right foot, and by the right foot, I mean dessert.
I love a cast iron skillet dessert recipe. As you can see from my roundup here.
Fruit crisp is one of my absolute favorite desserts. You can make a crisp with any fruit and ingredients you nearly always have on hand. It’s sweet, a little bit crunchy, a little bit chewy, and incredibly comforting.
This humble dessert ticks all the boxes under Perfect Dessert—bonus points if you add a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
I don’t know about you folks, but in our house, fruit crisp is fair game for breakfast. I mean, come on, it’s got fruit and oatmeal in it. That’s a breakfast food, right?
And ground cherries make for a fantastic fruit crisp. They work well on their own or if you don’t have enough, pair them with another fruit. They go great with apples, peaches, or pears. Give my ground cherry crisp recipe a try when you’re craving something warm and comforting for dessert. I can guarantee you’ll have an empty skillet before you can blink.
- 3 cups of ground cherries, or ground cherries and another fruit to make 3 cups
- 1 stick of cold butter, divided in half
- 1 cup of brown sugar, divided in half
- 4 tablespoons of flour, divided in half
- 1 cup of rolled oats
- ½ teaspoon of cinnamon
- Preheat your oven to 350F. In a cast iron skillet, melt half of the stick of butter over low heat then turn off. In a small bowl, toss the ground cherries with half of the brown sugar and half of the flour. Pour the fruit and sugar mixture into the skillet.
- In the bowl, add the rest of the butter, brown sugar, flour, and the rolled oats and cinnamon. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles small crumbs, then sprinkle the mixture over the fruit in the skillet.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes in the oven or until golden brown and bubbly. Allow the crisp to cool for about 15 minutes before serving.
2. Ground Cherry and Roasted Beet Salad
If you’re looking for a healthier option than turning your berries into dessert, ground cherries make an excellent addition to salads. They pair exceptionally well with roasted beets and goat cheese.
Add some pecans or pepitas, and you’ve got the perfect salad. Don’t forget to use those beet greens in your salad too.
Here are some more ways to use your beet harvest.
3. Ground Cherry Salsa
It should come as no surprise that this cousin-to-the-tomato also makes great salsa. With basically the same ingredients, you can whip up a fresh and chunky batch of salsa that gives plain tomato salsa a run for the money.
Hayley over at Health Starts in the Kitchen walks us through this quick and easy recipe. I doubled the jalapeno in mine because I like my salsa hot. Don’t forget to let it chill in the fridge for a bit for the best flavor.
4. Chocolate Covered Ground Cherries
These sweet little berries inspired me to create a truly decadent (and insanely easy to make) chocolate creation. With very little time and effort, you can create a stunning and delicious treat.
My chocolate covered ground cherries make for an impressive homemade gift too. Or eat them all by yourself and enjoy every last one. I’m not going to tell anyone.
5. Ground Cherry Coffee Cake
The recipe is named the 10 Minute Ground Cherry Coffee Cake, but I’m telling you, I’ve made this thing twice, and it took me around 15-20 minutes to get it in the oven. And that’s using a food processor to make the topping. As the saying goes, your mileage may vary.
However, it’s definitely worth the extra five to ten minutes of effort. There is a reason I’ve made this twice in the last month. Because it’s incredible.
This cake is everything I love about coffee cake – moist with a dense crumb and a streusel topping loaded with nuts. The ground cherries take this cake to a whole other level.
If you manage to get this cake in the oven in ten minutes, let me know your secret.
6. Ground Cherry Jam
Now, on to our own Lydia Noyes shows us how to make and preserve ground cherry jam.
This is an excellent way to enjoy the flavor of these fun little fruits long after the growing season has ended. Put up a few extra half-pints for the holidays, as ground cherry jam makes an excellent gift for those folks in your life who have everything. Because I’ll bet, they don’t have ground cherry jam.
Give it a try; it’s easy to make and fabulous on your morning toast.
7. Blistered Ground Cherries
If you want a quick, tasty, and impressive appetizer, give this recipe a try. The result is a taste from somewhere with balmy breezes and turquoise waters. Move over shishito peppers; there’s a new blistered dish in town.
- Slices of toasted bread such as a baguette or Italian bread
- 1 tablespoon of butter
- ¼ teaspoon of freshly grated ginger
- 1 cup of ground cherries, husks removed and rinsed clean
- A pinch of salt
- In a cast iron skillet, heat the butter to bubbling over low to medium heat. Add the ginger and stir constantly, so it doesn’t stick. After about 30 seconds, add the ground cherries and turn up the heat to medium-high.
- Let the ground cherries sit in the hot skillet until the bottoms begin to brown and blister. Stir them and remove when the ground cherries have softened and are just starting to pop. Season to taste with salt.
- Spread the hot ground cherries over the top of lightly toasted slices of bread and serve immediately.
8. Ground Cherry Chutney
If you can make jam or butter out of it, chances are you can make a chutney out of it too. And ground cherries are no exception. If you’re not on the chutney bandwagon yet, let me help you aboard. Chutney is made a bit like jam but is often chunkier.
And while they’re generally sweet, they also have a tartness to them from the addition of vinegar. I like to tell my kiddos that chutneys are like sweet and sour jam.
You can easily double the recipe to make a bigger batch. And you can process it in half-pint and quarter-pint jars using the water bath canning method.
- 4 cups ground cherries, husks removed and rinsed clean
- ¾ cup packed brown sugar
- ¾ cup apple cider vinegar
- ½ cup raisins
- 1/3 cup chopped red onion
- 2 tsp mustard seed
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- ¼ tsp salt
- In a large saucepan, add all ingredients and bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally as the mixture reduces.
- As the chutney gets thicker, stir continuously, so it doesn’t scorch.
- The chutney is done when it mounds on a spoon and is no longer watery. It takes between 30 and 40 minutes to thicken.
- Refrigerate the finished chutney if you want to enjoy it right away.
- To preserve your chutney, prepare half-pint or quarter-pint jars by heating them in a water bath canner to 180 degrees.
- Remove one jar at a time, pouring the hot water back into the canner, and fill the jar using a jar funnel. Leave ½” of headspace and stir with a wooden skewer to release any trapped air. Top up if needed and wipe the rim of the jar with a clean, damp cloth.
- Put a new, heated lid on the jar and add the band, tightening until it’s finger-tight. Place the filled jar in the canner and proceed with the rest of the jars and chutney.
- Always be sure there is one to two inches of water covering your jars. Place the lid on the canner and bring the jars to a boil. Process at a boil for 10 minutes. Then turn the heat off and remove the lid.
- After five minutes, remove the processed chutney to a dry towel and allow them to sit, undisturbed for 24 hours.
- Remove the bands, add a label, and enjoy.
9. Ground Cherry Gin and Tonic
At one of the farmer’s markets where I bought ground cherries, the gentleman farmer told me I was missing out on the best way to enjoy these little golden sweets.
He assured me that the very best way to use ground cherries was muddled in a gin and tonic.
Naturally, I had to put his suggestion to the test. What can I say? I do it all for you, dear reader. I want to be able to provide you with the best information.
And I have to say he might be right. The sweet-tart flavor of the ground cherries blended well with the classic gin and tonic combo. I simply muddled a handful of ground cherries in with the ice before adding the rest of my gin and tonic ingredients. Give it a try and let me know what you think.
There you go. I hope you make a few of these and enjoy them as much as I did. I’m sure you’ll have a lot fewer ground cherries on your hands if you do. And you’ll probably have a small mountain of the husks too. Toss the husks in your compost bin and go have yourself a slice of ground cherry coffee cake. You deserve it.
And don’t forget that if you’d like an endless supply of delicious ground cherries every summer, then grow your own. Each plant produces hundreds of sweet fruits. Read our guide to growing your own below: