The ground cherry is one of the new members of the Schoolhouse Farms family of unusual crops. It has many names, Inca berry, Aztec berry, golden berry, Peruvian cherry, Pok pok, or Poha. Each plant can yield 300 berries individually wrapped in a papery husk. The process of harvesting is a bit tedious, as one must sit Indian style basically under the plant while collecting the hundreds of individual fruits.
It is an intriguing fruit with a savory flavor that crosses between pineapple and melon we included some in our weekly CSA share and have even received a message that some wanted more so they could make jam. The fruit is versatile and can be used to make tarts and pies, jams and jellies, preserves and chutneys, sauces and glazes added to cereal, chocolate dipped or even dried.
When we first share them with our friends immediately they are curious about these papery packages. Generally it is with some level of trepidation as they pop one into their mouth. The responses are varied, but generally one taste leads to the next.
Ground cherries or Cape Gooseberries (Physalis peruviana) comes originally from South America. It is related to the tomato, potato, and other members of the nightshade family and is related to the tomatillo but not to the gooseberry as the name implies.
This super food contains vitamins A, C, B1, B2, B6, B12 and is high in phosphorous. They also contain 16% protein, very high for a fruit.
The small round berry is about the size of a marble, full of small seeds. It is bright yellow when ripe, and very sweet, making it ideal for adding to fruit salads, pies and jam making. Each berry is covered in a papery pod, if this is left on they will keep for 30 -45 days at room temperature, possibly longer.