Back in August, I posted about ground cherries (also known as husk cherries, Physalis spp), one of the random but welcome edible weeds growing in my yard.
I was excited to finally try ground cherries. I allowed them to grow in three different places, even letting them take over a corner of my strawberry bed to make sure I’d get enough fruit, once they were finally ripe, to actually make something.
(A recurring challenge this year has been finding enough wild edibles to be worth using in a recipe. For instance, wild grapes were scarce, and mostly out of my reach except for one small cluster. Recently, I stumbled across some discarded Allegeny chinkapin (also spelled chinquapin, Castanea pumila) branches with burs still attached but only managed to find a whopping six full-sized nuts.)
I checked on the ground cherries once most of the husks turned brown, papery and lacy. Imagine my horror to find that someone (or something) had beaten me to the prize!
Every single one had been pierced, and the fruit stolen. The only ones which still had berries were still green, and therefore unripe. And there weren’t even enough of those to actually use!
I checked all three locations in my yard – strawberry bed, under the back deck, and next to the chicken run.
I finally found one overlooked ripe ground cherry to sample.
It was, shall we say, anticlimactic.
Sort of tomato-y, sort of tart, not at all sweet like I’d hoped given all the “ground cherry pie” recipes are sprinkled around the internet. So, while it would have been nice to harvest enough fruit to use, I am not as heartbroken over this foraging fail as I might have been!
Maybe cultivated ground cherry varieties are tastier, but I won’t even try growing them after seeing how ravaged the wild ones were. Hopefully whatever ate the fruit enjoyed the experience more than I did! (I’m assuming birds; maybe the same cardinals that ate most of my blueberries earlier this summer.) I’ll leave stands of plants by the chicken coop and under the deck, but I won’t them take over the strawberry bed again!