Ground Cherries in Minnesota

In Northern climates you can feel pretty limited about what kind of fruits you can grow. Thankfully, ground cherries in Minnesota are easy to grow and a delicious little garden gift.

What are Ground Cherries?

Ground cherries are also called “husk cherries” or sometimes even “Strawberry tomato”. I’d say that is the best way to describe their taste. Kind of like a super fruity and sweet tomato. Some varieties also have a pineapple type taste.

They are related to the Chinese lantern plant and a member of the Physalis family.

The plants grow low and sprawling across the ground and produce a little cherry type fruit inside a husk. Similar to a tomatillo. They have small seeds and bright yellow fruit when it’s ripe.

easy to grow fruit rough and tumble farmhouse

How to grow ground cherries?

Ground cherries can thrive anywhere you grow tomatoes. Thankfully it is easy to grow ground cherries in Minnesota and other northern climates. They like a neutral soil and similar to tomatoes, if they have too much nitrogen they will put on a ton of leaves and not much fruit.

They like full sun and are best watered once a week or so nice and deep.

These puppies put out a lot of fruit and by their nature will leave plenty of seeds behind. They will easily self seed and volunteer plants for years to come anywhere you plant them.

Seeds can be started indoors along with your tomato plants.

They tend to sprawl out along the ground, so put about two feet between plants if possible. This also makes harvesting easier later.

ground cherries rough and tumble farmhouse

When to harvest ground cherries?

Harvesting ground cherries is almost like a treasure hunt. When the fruit is ripe and ready, the husk around it will turn papery and a light brown. The fruit will then drop off the plant. They are ready between 65-75 days from planting.

When you find the little husks on the ground under the plant they are ready to harvest. The fruit inside will be a dark to bright yellow.

It’s fun to unwrap the little packages, like a gift from the garden.

how to harvest ground cherries rough and tumble farmhouse

Can you save ground cherry seeds?

Absolutely! One plant will provide more than enough seeds to keep you stocked for years to come.

Ground cherry seeds have a small membrane around them. You should smoosh the seeds out of the fruit and into a small cup of water. After a few days they will get a film or a mold on them. This is a good thing! This will eat away the membrane layer around the seed. Lay the seeds out on a paper towel and allow them to dry completely before you store them in an airtight bag.

Where do I buy ground cherries?

Many seed companies have them available in their catalogs. I got my seeds from North Circle Seeds.

Popular varieties are True Yellow, Goldie, Pineapple, and Aunt Molly.

How to Store Ground Cherries

Leave the cherries in their husk and store on the counter. They should last about a week. If you unwrap them or place them in an airtight container this makes them spoil faster.

They can also be frozen and used later in the season.

Below are some ideas for how to use up your harvest.

husk cherries rough and tumble farmhouse

What are some ways you can use ground cherries?

Personally I find them delicious enough to unwrap them and eat them on the spot. Other ways you can use them…

  • Jam
  • Salsa
  • Relish
  • Pie – Substitute the ground cherries for the green tomatoes
husk cherries rough and tumble farmhouse

Watch and Learn

Check out our lovely ground cherries in Minnesota!

Pin it for Later

growing husk cherries rough and tumble farmhouse

Sources

Wisconsin Garden Guide by Jerry Minich

University of Minnesota Extension

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