Cultivating a Taste for Ground Cherry Pie
pie shell (9 inch)
Ground cherries also are known as husk tomatoes, and are a smaller, more flavorful cousin of the tomatillo (Physalis ixocarpa) used in Mexican salsa verde.
They're also related to the Hawaiian poha (Physalis peru viana).
They like the same conditions as tomatoes, and thus will do best in the portions of the Bay Area that stay warmest at night.
However, if you can grow tomatoes, you can grow ground cherries, and they're worth a try.
They always pull their disappearing act if grown among other plants.
They like to drape their long trailing branches over their neighbors' leaves, and run down among long grasses.
Only becoming visible when the other plants die back late in the year They set fruit sparingly until mid- season, when they finally produce large clusters of fruit that develop inside greenish husks. These dry when ripe to a lacy brown paper. The fruits are green and unpalatable until ripe, when they turn a rich golden yellowish brown. Small But Sweet: The fruits are the size of blueberries, and are intensely sweet with a low acid finish. They're surprisingly savory and good for preserves, although I prefer them in a once-every-five-years version of ground cherry pie. Plant the seeds in the spring in an out-of-the-way part of the garden and make sure the area is not allowed to undergo severe water stress. Directions: Gently mix together ground cherries, sugar, tapioca, flour and lemon juice. Let stand for 15 minutes while you line a 9-inch pie pan with half of the pastry. Preheat the oven to 450 F. Turn the fruit, mixture into the pastry- lined pan, and dot the top with the butter. Cover with a well-pricked top crust or lattice work of dough. Bake at 450F for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350℉ (180℃) and bake for another 40 minutes, or until golden brown.