One of my favorite farm activities to do, is collect free food — aka, forage.
Sure you’ve got your typical wild raspberries, blackberries and black raspberries, along with the wild apple trees. But this year, I discovered something new: ground cherries!
Curiously enough, I had bought a packet of ground cherry seeds along with all my veggie seeds this year. They sounded like a great way to get berries NOW in your garden and not have to wait a few years.
However, after doing some research on them, I discovered that I had them growing wild on the property. So this year, I set out to find the wild ones and try them out!
I’d like to point out now, that ground cherries are a very persistent weed, and grow ANYWHERE, but especially sandy soil. Since they use an underground running root system, they can pop-up anywhere you DON’T want them! After a bit of exploring, I found several dozen plants growing in my sand pit.
Now ground cherries grow their “cherry” in a papery husk (like a tomatillo), which makes them a cinch to identify (along with their hailing yellow flower with purple center). When I found these plants, I excitedly dug a few up to plant in my garden, then went back a week later to check for fruit.
I didn’t know much about them, so when I found several husks dangling from under their leaves, I excitedly plucked one and pulled off the paper.
The “cherry” was green. From what I’d remembered reading, some species have yellow fruits, some green, and some orange.
I split the small cherry in half. The insides were filled with tiny seeds and lots of dry pulp. It didn’t look very tasty, but I figured I’d give it a go. So I took a nibble off one side . . .
And promptly spit it out!
It tasted like . . . . a weed!
Bleh, that was NOT what I was expecting! This wasn’t right.
Wait . . . I suddenly remembered somethign ELSE I’d read about the plant . . . it was a relative of the deadly Nightshade Plant!
Oh man, maybe I’d eaten Nightshade instead!
I quickly looked the plant up online. Nope, not the same plant.
But . . . it WAS still poisonous!
Apparently the fruit was not “ripe” yet, the green fruit always turns yellowish when ripe, and ONLY ripens on the plant. And . . . the green ones ARE POISONOUS!
I’m not sure how bad, but I’m glad I spit it out.
The whole way home I was convinced my throat was closing-over though!
I have yet to taste these supposedly amazing treats, but I’m hoping they are everything people claim!