There is some new produce popping up at the markets.
A little eggshell colored husk encasing something the size of a marble caught my eye at the Overland Park Farmers Market. My typical quick focused pace came to a sudden halt.
“Ground cherries,” the sign read. The farmer and I had a short conversation because I was on a tight time frame. As soon as I got in my car I opened the bag and delicately peeled back the creamy white husk to reveal a yolk colored fruit.
The first nibble allowed me to dissect the inside while my mouth got acquainted with the new flavor. The seeds were tiny, off white and palatable and a suitcase of gel carried each seed. Pressed tightly together there is hardly any space between the seeds and the flesh, which is delicate with a firm tomatillo-like skin.
The little gumball shaped fruit was equally as intriguing on the taste buds. First there are notes of cereal, a cross between Special K and Total. Followed by reminiscence of a cherry tomato yet with the mellow sweetness and nice bright acidity of a ripe cherry.
Complicated, layered flavor in a cute suitcase, I just may be in love with the ground cherry.
Finding new culinary items spreads a grin on my face just as if a cute man had just smiled at me. I shared the new fruit with the chefs in my kitchen who shared a look of bewilderment, awe and excitement.
Bread it is.
Ground Cherry Bread
Makes 8 to 10 servings
1/3 cup local honey
1 cup milk
1/2 cup butter, melted but not hot
1 cup smashed ground cherries, husk and stem removed and smashed lightly
1/2 cup wheat flour
1 1/2 cups pastry flour
1 teaspoon ginger, freshly grated
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1 tablespoon tarragon, fresh and chopped
Whisk together the honey, milk, egg and butter. Fold in the remaining ingredients. Grease a loaf pan and then pour batter in pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
The texture will be close to a banana bread or zucchini bread. Add a dollop of sour cream or vanilla custard and this is a snack, treat or dessert
Other recipes to try: Chocolate Covered Ground Cherries, Fresh Ground Cherry Salsa, Husk Cherry and Goat Cheese Salad; Apricot, Ground Cherry & Plum Vanilla Spiced Pie; Ground Cherries Preserves of course and maybe add a little bacon. Tips and more recipes from the Smithsonian.com.
Renee Kelly is the owner of Renee Kelly’s Harvest in Johnson County. Her passion lies in changing the food system, one plate at a time. Her inspiration is Mother nature and the many growers in the Kansas City area.