(Physalis pruinosa); aka Husk Cherry; Heirloom; a Slow Food Ark of Taste variety; Overwintered seed stock;
A Polish heirloom first described in horticultural literature in 1837 in the Pennsylvanian gardening community, Aunt Molly's ground cherry is an upright sturdy bush that benefits from caging like one would tomatoes. Delightfully sweet with a hint of the tropics, these golden bite-size berries develop in their own protective husks. We have successfully direct-seeded ground cherries but due to their small seed size, it is beneficial to start them indoors when you start your peppers and tomatoes. To harvest, collect the fruits as the husks turn papery brown and fall from the plant. Extremely productive, the husks begin to fall at the 70 day mark and fruit set continues until frost. Store the ground cherries in their husks until ready to eat. Their flavors intensify in storage.
We enjoy the fruits fresh as a treat and in jam that is akin to a rejuvinating burst of summer sunshine on Michigan's frosty winter days. They make a unique salsa, are delicious in pies and tarts and dehydrate well for an easy to store snack.
Why grow Aunt Molly's instead of Goldie? Well, honestly we don't notice too much difference between Aunt Molly's and Goldie with regard to flavor, productivity, use or storage. The primary difference between the two is growth habit; Aunt Molly's is more an erect bush and Goldie forms a low spreading canopy. Aunt Molly's is aboard the Slow Food Ark of Taste.