Physalis pruinosa, known by several names including husk tomato, ground cherry and strawberry tomato, is a relative of tomatoes and tomatillos in the Solanaceae family. Ground cherries, with a meaty consistency, can be eaten raw, dried or cooked and flavour everything from sauces to jams. Physalis pruinosas grow from 18 to 30 inches in height on sprawling vines and sport large, fuzzy leaves and yellow flowers before fruit production begins. Growth requirements include full to partial sun, well-draining soil rich in nutrients and spacing of two to three feet between plants.
- Skill level:
Monitor the ground cherry fruits and allow them to ripen on the vine. Fully ripened fruits will be golden in colour.
Pick ground cherries from the vine when the outer husk turns brown. Some fruits fall from the vines when ripe so be sure to check lower branches and the ground beneath vines for ripened fruits.
Peel the outer husk away from the fruit and wash before using. If you won't be using the fruit, it can be stored in the husk for several weeks, according to the University of Minnesota Extension Service.
Tips and warnings
- Ground cherries typically ripen in mid- to late summer.
- Soil high in nitrogen will result in more foliage production than fruit.
- Physalis pruinosa plants do not tolerate frost.
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