Ground Cherries

Ground Cherries

Ground Cherries

Have you ever had these delicious fruits called ground cherries? If not they are worth trying, this year I sold ground cherries, as it is more commonly known, at my local farmer’s markets. Most people had never heard of it before. I began to research it and decided I had to make a blog post about this amazing fruit.

WHAT ARE GROUND CHERRIES?

Ground cherries, also known as Cape gooseberry(South Africa),Inca berry,Aztec berry,Goldenberry,Giant ground cherry,Peruvian groundcherry,Peruvian cherry,Pok Pok(Madagascar),Poha(Hawaii), Aguaymanto(Peru),Uvilla(Ecuador),Uchuva(Colombia),Harankash(Egypt) or (rarely)Physalis.

Ground cherries are closely related to the tomatillo and Chinese lantern, and more distantly, tomato, eggplant, potato, and other members of the nightshade family. For more on Ground Cherries check here.

WHAT DO GROUND CHERRIES LOOK LIKE?

Contrary to what the name implies, ground cherry is not related to the cherry or gooseberry family. It is grown all over the world in tropical,, subtropical, and temperate climates.

Ground cherries look like small orange pearls, approximately 1-2 cm in diameter, and are enclosed in a miniature papery husk.

WHAT DO GROUND CHERRIES TASTE LIKE?

It is sweet but slightly tart and is said to taste similar to pineapple, strawberries, mango or citrus fruits, with an earthy undertone.

GROUND CHERRIES NUTRITION

This fruit has amazing benefits for your health. It is high in vitamins A, C, thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin. The ripe fruits also have a concentration of beta-carotene. It also has significant amounts of calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, bioflavonoids, protein, and fiber.

Vitamin A

  • Great for vision
  • Helps immune and inflammatory systems to work correctly
  • Helps with normal cell growth and development
  • Essential for the reproductive systems

Vitamin C

  • Essential to the immune system
  • An antioxidant, which prevents damage or death of cells
  • A natural antihistamine (allergy relief)
  • Reduces the chance of stroke
  • Protects against Parkinson’s disease

Thiamin, also known as B1

  • Helps protect the nerves
  • Great for mental health
  • Essential to metabolism, especially with carbohydrates
  • Lowers chance of cataracts

Riboflavin, also known as B2

  • Necessary for iron metabolism
  • Prevents headaches/migraines
  • Maintains other B vitamins

Niacin, also known as B3

  • Raises HDL (good) cholesterol levels
  • Helps cardiac health
  • Good for treating depression, senility, and memory loss
  • Improves joint flexibility and relieves pain and swelling due to arthritis

Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin

  • Helps children to develop properly
  • Improves mental health; may even stop Alzheimer’s disease, if caught early on
  • Greatly reduces the risk of pernicious anemia
  • Helps with cell renewal, keeping you young and fresh

On top of all these wonderful vitamins, ground cherries only have 53 calories per 3.5 oz serving, and 1 gram of fat. Because of a large amount of fiber, eating ground cherries will help you to feel full faster, keeping you from overeating and therefore helping you lose weight.

These wonderful berries have no sodium and have a low glycemic index score.

The high amount of pectin aids in absorbing calcium, which is necessary for strong bones. Ground cherries also do wonders for your cells, having anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties; it has been shown to inhibit cancer, particularly lung, colon, and liver varieties.

It is also a diuretic (meaning it helps remove water and sodium through urine) and can be used to aid fluid retention and other such issues.

HEALTH BENEFITS OF GROUND CHERRIES

In herbal medicine, ground cherries have been used to treat asthma. dermatitis, hepatitis, malaria. and rheumatism. It has been found to have some melatonin, which helps improve and regulate sleep, prevents degenerative diseases, prevents migraines, and protects against reproductive organ cancers.

There are many ground cherry recipes online, showing you ways to include this wonderful berry in your diet. It can be added to salads containing fruit or vegetables, canned, or made into a jam or sauce. Because of the high pectin content, it makes a wonderful pie or tart.

They can also be dried and eaten like raisins. Add to ice cream, or crush and swirl in for an interesting flavor combination. To add sweetness, you may prick the skin and roll in sugar. You can also try making salsa, cake, or adding to your cereal. However, it is just as nice to eat them as is. Check out my Cranberry Ground Cherry Sauce
recipe.



For More Articles, check out:

The Amazing Benefits Of Lemons

Nature’s Penicillin

 

Michelle Blackwood

Hi, I’m Michelle, I’m the voice, content creator and photographer behind Healthier Steps. I share vegan and gluten-free recipes because of past health issues. My goal is to help you make healthier choices and show you how healthy eating is easy and delicious.

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29 Comments
  1. cmartcookie
    October 18, 2016

    My real question is, what does anyone use to strain the seeds if they want to make ground cherry jam or jelly without seeds? My gut doesn’t tolerate the seeds, but I have many, many quarts of ground cherries sitting here waiting to be used for something. The good thing is, the longer you leave them in their little paper husks, the more golden they get and sweeter, too.

  2. candace
    September 22, 2016

    I have several volunteer plants (Minnesota) but NONE of the unopened husks have berries in them! What do you think happened? We planted last year, then husband pulled it up and threw it onto another spot. I have always liked ground cherries, since I was a little girl, but tend to forget about them each “garden planting season”. Hard to find the plants in nurseries!

  3. Lisa
    September 13, 2016

    Can you tell me if I am correct I read that they are high in carbs I hope I’m wrong … I count net carbs, carbs minus the fiber

  4. Ahammad kabeer
    July 26, 2016

    Could you provide me more information on this article and also varies ground cherries or gooseberry.. and its use in medical purpose. i am doing a project on this.

    i need authentic information. please do help me on this

  5. Karen
    September 25, 2015

    Thank you Michelle for this article! Just discovered ground cherries at a farm and the farmer’s market last year. They are a fantastic fall treat and good to know how healthy they are!
    I was wondering about the B12 though, since it is thought to be found in animal food only except in rare cases where animal fluids are left on the plant. Is this the only plant that contains B12?

  6. Theo.
    September 23, 2015

    Just came across this site. Great information. I like to add something in view of the questions asked about seeds. Don’t worry. Just spread some of the fruit on your garden. Once you till them under in the fall the seeds will grow spontaneously in the spring. Some view ground cherries an invasive specie. I guess they are. Doesn’t matter what soil you have. They will thrive. The good thing about them is that they are easily weeded. Just keep enough to meet your needs. The following fall there will be enough fruit dropped on the ground and many of these, once again tilled under, will give you, more plants you ever thought possible.
    BTW. After harvest I pull out all the plants and compost them. New slate for spring.
    My wife makes jams and pies. All delicious and nutritious too I found out.

  7. Betty France
    September 11, 2015

    For the past weeks my ground cherries do not seem to ripen. However there are many many empty hulls under the plant, like they have fallen off and been eaten from the inside. I see no bugs or ants. What is happening. Yes, the hulls are opened. But no cherry any more. They started out wonderful this summer, and now have lots of green cherries, but the ripe hulls are piled up underneath, but are empty. Puzzled!

    • Michelle Blackwood
      September 14, 2015

      Wow Betty that’s so strange, maybe a small nocturnal creature is enjoying them. So sorry, my tree has a lot of ground cherries on still but they just haven’t ripened as yet.

    • Janine
      May 15, 2016

      Raccoons love them (at least I am pretty sure that’s who I was sharing mine with) Lucky I planted lots. They are very easy to grow.

  8. Mary Ann
    September 8, 2015

    I just found these wonderful ground cherries a few weeks ago when I stopped at a little Amish fruit stand. After that first pint, needless to say, I went back for more, and after reading everything here, I am going to go back and get many. They also had a pie, which I bought, and it was out of this world.
    My ground is clay, so do I have to get good topsoil to grow some of these? And you said to keep the seeds until next Spring, do we keep the entire cherry? The seeds are so very small.
    I am so very glad that I googled ground cherry nutritional values and found this page. Thank you so very much.

    • Michelle Blackwood
      September 8, 2015

      I can imagine how delicious the pie was. You can dehydrate the ground cherries or remove the seeds. Treat it the same as you would when you are saving tomato seeds.

  9. Karen
    July 22, 2015

    My grandmother grew these and I haven’t had any since I was a little girl. She made preserves out of them. I recently found some at a Farmer’s Market here and I was so excited I couldn’t wait to get them home! If anyone knows where I can get some seeds and tips on how to get these to grow, please please let me know. I live in Iowa and everyone thinks you are talking about husk tomato’s and they don’t know what ground cherries are. Help….Thanks….

    • Michelle Blackwood
      July 22, 2015

      I have some growing in my garden now, you can just take seeds from the ones you bought from the farmers market and allow them to dry for next years growing season. You can also purchase seeds online from Baker Creek Heirloom Seed company.

      • Joanne
        August 4, 2015

        Michelle..this is going to be a silly question, but do I get the seed from the ground cherry itself? I have to plants growing in my garden now. I love ground cherries alot and want to always have them. Another question..I live in Eastern Ontario Canada…can I dig up my ground cherry plants and bring them in the house in planters…would they stay alive?

        • Michelle Blackwood
          August 5, 2015

          Joanne, there is no silly question :) Yes the seed itself is fine. I’m not sure about your zone but here in Ohio if you let the fruits that drop on the ground remain, they will reseed and multiply. I’m not sure that you can bring the plant inside, so why not save some seeds before you take the plant indoors.

        • gail metcalfe
          September 10, 2016

          My husband used to work at Veseys Seeds in PEI. They had them growing in their trial garden. They only planted them once, and they self seeded from then on. I have some growing in my garden this year, so I am going to leave a bunch of them on the plants and see if I can get some volunteers next year. The ones I planted this year, I started inside in April. They looked pretty pathetic for quite awhile and just recently took off like crazy.

    • Michelle Blackwood
      August 2, 2015

      I would try Baker’s Heirloom Seeds or probably check the parks because they grow wild.

    • russell
      July 25, 2016

      Seed savers in Decorah (NE Iowa ) sells a heirloom ground cherry. I think its called Aunt Molly’s. Just got done eating a handful. Was feeling guilty about it until i read this article.

    • Nicole McAlpine
      August 12, 2016

      I’m from Iowa also and I can find them at our local farmer market. They are yummy! I eat them as a snack. My kids love em too.

  10. cee
    February 23, 2015

    I live in nyc. Where might I find ground cherries.

    • Ben MG
      August 2, 2015

      I think wegmans sells them

      • Michelle Blackwood
        August 2, 2015

        Thanks Ben, I have also seen them in Whole Foods Market!

    • Michelle Blackwood
      August 2, 2015

      I would try Baker’s Heirloom Seeds or probably check the parks because they grow wild.

  11. mountain woman
    December 7, 2013

    I love you for this report. I had them growing wild in my garden. First book contact: they are poisonous. I pulled them out the first year, eating a few. The next year a mountain man told me abouit grandmother’s ground cherry pie. I let them grow and started eating them raw, So very delicious and precious.

    • Michelle Blackwood
      August 2, 2015

      They are so delicious, have some in my garden that I’m waiting to harvest. I might just make a pie with them!

  12. Kasia
    October 22, 2013

    I love ground cherries and could not find any nutritional info about them anywhere in my books – this article is so detailed and now I love ground cherries even more knowing how healthful they are!!!

    Can’t wait to continue to eat them as they ripen through the remainder of fall / early winter

    Kasia

    • Michelle Blackwood
      August 2, 2015

      Please enjoy Kasia!

      • Sherry
        October 20, 2015

        Where can you purchase these ground cherries?

        • Michelle Blackwood
          October 21, 2015

          I have seen them at Whole Foods Market that’s the actual cherries. The seeds are online.