Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Husk Cherries

Our newest discovery at the farm is the husk cherry, also known as the ground cherry or cape gooseberry. Last week's share included a handful of them, and I'm hoping that as they flourish, we might be allowed a pint or two.

Husk cherries belong to the deadly nightshade family and look like tiny tomatillos (no surprise- they're related). They grow low to the ground on strong, wild-looking runner plants, and their delicate, papery husks turn yellow when they're ready to be harvested. When you peel back the husks, the glossy-skinned, raspberry-sized globes roll out freely.

The flavour is definitely unusual. The first bite releases a pleasing tart acidity, followed by an intensely fruity, somewhat sweet, almost floral taste. L described them as a cross between a tomato and a grape; the wikipedia entry lists both tomato/pineapple and tomato/strawberry flavours. I agree with all three assessments- the sweet aspect is intriguing and difficult to identify.

A few weeks ago, The New York Times profiled the husk cherry as a fabulous addition to salads. I think we'll stick with that route, though I'm tempted to try preserving them (perhaps with some late-season strawberries?), if we ever do get that full pint!


Katy said...

I just discovered husk cherries too! Obviously a few months later than you did. :-) They were delicious!

la petite gourmande said...

Oooh, I'm glad someone else likes them, too! A lot of people seem to think the taste is too strange.

Where did you find them?

Kim (Edible/Usable) said...

I love husk cherries. A friend in VT grew them a few years ago which was the first time I'd ever had them. I'd love to make jam or chutney with them at some point. Thanks for the link to the NYT - I was just wondering what I could do with a handful of them I just got at the Union Square farmers market.

la petite gourmande said...

Hi Kim!

I just realised that I didn't link to the actual article, and now I can't find it. Stupid me! sorry about that. You can find some good recipes at or Epicurious, though (as you probably come).