Thursday, August 19, 2010

Ground Cherries? Gooseberries? Physalis? Tasty!

In the parking lot of the shopping center I work at there is a farmers' market on Thursday, and I usually stop by after work. I picked up 2 zucchinis, 2 summer squashes, an onion, 4 poblanos and a bunch of basil. Not because I had any plans for these items just because a) I like them and b) they were on sale. As I was leaving I noticed a vendor selling "ground cherries". Seeing a good learning opportunity I asked the vendor what they were, he described them as "little sweet tomatoes" and let me sample one. They were yummy! They have little husks around them and the consistency of a tomato but sweetness of a berry.

Some people have a little devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other. I ,on the other hand, have a tight-wad cheaper than Ebinezer Scrooge on one shoulder and a food snob on the other. At $4 a pint the tightwad got the best of me, but as I walked away, the foodie started arguing her case- "You don't need to use all these veggies at once, and plus you have a food blog and this is a great chance to use a local ingredient you've never tried before. Go back and get those dumb cherries!" So, I did.

As soon as I arrived back at the apartment I asked google what the heck a ground cherry is, and then I realized they are gooseberries. Now this I've heard of, not sure where, probably a secret ingredient on Iron Chef. After consulting my Le Cordon Bleu cookbook (thanks Phil!) I found the following description.

"Physalis (yet another name) - also called cape gooseberry, this sweet orange berry is encased in an inedible husk of papery leaf- like sepals. Eat raw or cooked, or use as a flower-like decoration."
And on page 322, a recipe!

I continued with my adventurous attitude and ignored the fact that I had never made my own caramel or worked with hot motel sugar before. I survived without burninateing anything, and my candied gooseberries look just like the picture! They taste good too, maybe not worth the mess... but I learned a new technique AND used a new ingredient. Not to mention I took some great photos. All in all, a successful day in the kitchen.

What do YOU do with gooseberries? A quick google search revealed recipes for pies, cobblers, salsas, chutneys.... any recommendations?


  1. Gooseberry cobbler sounds to be something rather unique, so that's the direction I'd take. Just to be different. :-)

  2. The caramelized ones were good.

  3. I have a great cobbler recipe that is totally blog worthy! I also heard mixing the blueberries and the gooseberries in the cobbler is good.

  4. Our family always made ground cherry pie. Just like any fruit pie, add sugar (about 3/4 to 1 cup), some lemon juice, a handful of flour. Put in a pie shell. (unbaked) We always put a lattice crust on top . Bake 425 for 20 mins., then 350 till done (maybe 40 minutes).I wish I had some ground cherries!

  5. Just in case you have the chance to try this again, the ground cherries in your picture aren't ripe. They should be an all over orange colour with no hint of green.