Ground Cherries

Brand: Top


Found At: Coop

When I first encountered these on a fruit plate, I thought that it was quaint that the Swedes thought cherry tomatoes were a fruit. In the few months I’ve been here I’ve seen these on cakes, in pies, and as decorative elements in fruit displays and I’ve always chuckled to myself about the weird things they get up to in foreign places. It always reminded me of my bafflement when I first saw Chinese people harvesting tomatoes from trees. It was, it turns out, an apt comparison. Those tree tomatoes were actually persimmons, as I would learn after a salad went very wrong. These fruit tomatoes as well were also not tomatoes at all but were, in fact, ground cherries – a member of the nightshade family I had not yet encountered.

Physalis, as they are also called, are small fruits that are sometimes sold in a leafy brown husk about the thickness of tissue paper. They are small, round, and orange with a texture that is almost identical to that of a cherry tomato and a flavor that is almost identical to a strawberry. And once you get over that initial shock of unmet expectation, they are actually quite good – tart and acidic and sweet. But that’s kicker – it is so difficult to look at what is clearly a cherry tomato and reconcile that it will taste like berry. I don’t know that I’m quite there yet and I can’t quite bring myself to eat them on their own. But on cake? Well, then I’m not so picky.

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