Urban adventure with ground cherries
Cape gooseberry (Rasbhari in Northern India) is giant version of the ground cherry. Rasbhari is about the size of a kumquat and ground cherry is 1/4 that size. So giant is perhaps not the right description but you get my meaning. If you are living in India, you don’t think of rasbhari as uncommon. Seasonal yes, but uncommon no. In fact, during the season if you are stuck in slow moving traffic you will likely bring home a bunch from one of the numerous street vendors. But if like me, you travel to India, it is a treat like jamun. So, when my husband said in spring this year that he has found a source for ground cherry, I was naturally excited even if it meant growing from a seedling.
Ours came from Seed Saver Exchange. The rest was simple. Transplant, watch em’ grow slowly, very slowly. These bushes start to fruit even when they are a meager 4 inches tall. Wait for the fruits to ripen and fall off the plant. Eat.
To me this tastes nothing like rasbhari or any fruit I have eaten before. Encased in a husk like rasbhari, this is a very sweet tomato like fruit with citrus and perhaps pineapple notes. Firm on ripening, it pops in your mouth releasing the sweetness. They dry out gracefully in their husk to a raisin which is delicious as well. Given that we have only a couple of plants, our yield is typically 3-4 little ones at a time – once or twice a week. So, it is a teeny weeny bit of nectar every harvest.
More photos of my Aunt Molly’s ground cherries: