Aunt Molly's Ground Cherry

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Physalis pruinosa Though native to Central America, this heirloom was widely grown in Poland and is now on board the Slow Food Ark of Taste. Won over our trials manager Heron Breen who had previously been indifferent to husk cherries. “Sweet and zesty.” Some folks compare the flavor of these ½–¾" fruits to pineapple, some to tangerines. 

A treat inside every paper wrapper! Same genus as Chinese Lantern and tomatillo, fruits ripen inside their protective husks. As clusters of berries sweeten, they turn from green to golden yellow, drop off the decorative branching plants, and reach perfection as their husks thin to a near-gossamer papery texture. The sweet berries have an indescribable flavor, great for raw snacks. Don’t eat them green––they can be a powerful emetic.

Planting: (72 days) Open-pollinated. Need filtered light and temperatures at least 75°, preferably closer to 90°, to germinate. Cover seeds with just a light sprinkling of soil and place the flats in the hottest part of the greenhouse, transplanting after last spring frost. Fertile, well drained, raised beds covered with plastic mulch promote early growth and better yields

Growing: Husk cherries tolerate a touch of frost but give up when temperatures dip below 30°. In a good year, about half will ripen in time. Will readily self sow, although volunteers never mature as quickly as those started indoors.

Strong light and cooler temperatures (60-70°F) prevent plants from getting leggy. Overwatering can cause fruit to crack

Harvest & Storage
Ripe fruit will fall to the ground
• Do not refrigerate for best flavor

Uses: This tomato has pineapple and vanilla flavor. Because of their high pectin count, they can be used for preserves, pies, over ice cream or in fresh fruit salads.

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