Aunt Molly’s Ground Cherry
“The greatest gift of the garden is the restoration of the five senses” ~ Hanna Rion
This one quote has been the foundation on which we have built Three Goat Farm-CSA. We not only have chosen to grow “Good, Clean, Fair” food, but we are also committed to growing food that awakens your five senses: vibrant colorful food, of all shapes, sizes and textures, that tastes and smells like nothing you’ve ever had before.
We love to grow vegetables that tell a story. Vegetables that have been handed down from grandfather, to father, to son. Vegetables from seeds that have been carefully tucked in a hanky, packed in the pocket of a trunk, coming to America with immigrant families hoping for a better life for their families. Sharing these seeds with others and the wonderful vegetables grown from them is what we do. Every one has a story to tell.
Slow Food-USA has established a list of many of these wonderful heirloom foods that are now endangered. This list is called “Ark of Taste.” These wonderful veggies are slowly disappearing. We have made a commitment to grow as many of these wonderful veggies as we can procure seeds to plant. We have grown heirloom tomatoes for over 10 years now and we were surprised to find that several varieties we were already growing were on the “Ark of Taste.”
We have now added several varieties of lettuce, more tomatoes, peppers and our newest discovery this year, the “Aunt Molly’s Ground Cherry.” This is an amazing fruit from the “nightshade family.” Related to tomatoes and tomatillos, it is found in recorded horticultural history as early as 1937. This outstanding Polish variety is prized for its clean, pineapple vanilla -like flavor.
How to Grow: Like tomatoes, start here in the north indoors. They will be slow to germinate, patience is needed. Just when you think they are never going to germinate – up they come. Plant outside, Memorial Day weekend with the rest of your tomatoes. They make great container plants.
How to Harvest: The green husks hanging on the plant will turn tan when they are fully ripened… then, yes, you guessed it… they drop to the ground! We suggest placing old sheets at the base of the plant, and every couple of days collect the fallen fruit.
How to Store: Still wrapped in their brown husks they will keep in bowl on your counter for several weeks, but I bet the grazing snackers in your family will not let them stay for long. Once you have peeled them they will last in your fridge a couple of weeks. You can also freeze them with the husks on a cookie sheet overnight and they store in a Ziploc bag in your freezer.
They make wonderful jam, are an interesting addition to fresh salads and I also have an old Amish pie recipe to share with you. But for the first batch from the garden I made a delicious poached ground cherry topping for vanilla ice ream. It was rich and decadent! It may be hard to find ground cherries this season, but keep an eye out for them at your local farmer’s market. We will definitely be increasing the amount of ground cherry plants we grow next year not only to supply our CSA shares with all they want, but also to have with us at our farmer’s markets.
Poached Ground Cherries
1 – 1 ½ pints ground cherries
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ c water
½ c Sherry
juice of one fresh lemon
2 c sugar
Combine the sugar, water & sherry, bring to a boil, and boil 8-10 minutes. Add the lemon juice, vanilla and ground cherries and cook 5 minutes, at a rolling boil. Reduce heat, and simmer until the ground cherries are just cooked through, about 12 minutes in all. Cool in the syrup. Serve as a topping over ice cream or serve warm over sponge cake or angel food cake.
Ground Cherry Pie
1 – 9’ pie crust (top & bottom crust)
3 T quick cooking tapioca
½ c sugar
½ c brown sugar
¾ tsp almond extract
½ tsp nutmeg, grated
dash of salt
21/2 c ground cherries, husked
Line a 9-inch pie pan with pastry and set aside. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine the tapioca, sugars, almond extract, nutmeg and salt. Sprinkle half the mixture in the bottom of the pastry shell and top with the ground cherries. Sprinkle the remainder of the sugar mixture over the cherries and dot with the butter. Top with a decorative top crust. Bake for 10 minutes, then lower the heat to 350 degrees and bake for about 45-50 minutes, or until crust is a deep golden and the juices in the pie are bubbling up in the center. Cool before eating.
Three Goat Farm-CSA