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Ground cherries drop to the ground when ready to pick. Easy peasy.

Ask Gardenerd: Green Ground Cherries

We received a question to Ask Gardenerd from Cheryl Dickson this week. She asks, “I have ground cherries that have fallen to the ground but a lot of them are still quite green. Should I leave the husk on them to ripen inside, or should I remove the husk to let them ripen? Thank you in advance for your answer!”

Great question, Cheryl. As you may know, ground cherries drop to the ground when they are ripe. Occasionally they will drop prematurely when the fruit still carries a green tinge.

Ground cherries drop to the ground when ready to pick. Easy peasy.

When that happens, just pick them up, keep them in their papery sheath (husk), and put them in a bowl on the counter for about a week to ripen. Peel back the husk of the few fruits after a week or so to check for a change in color. Ripe fruits should be bright yellow.

Tiny tomatillo-like fruits are oddly sweet and savory at the same time.

Some may still have a little green to them (as shown above) but the majority of them will ripen to yellow. We’ve picked ground cherries that never ripened, even after a month of sitting on the counter. Some will shrivel up instead.

Toss those out in the yard somewhere if you want ground cherries growing everywhere. Otherwise compost them in a hot batch.

Check out this delicious salsa recipe, one of our favorite things to do with ground cherries.

And if you need more info on growing ground cherries – read this blog post.

Thanks for writing in to Ask Gardenerd, Cheryl. We hope this answer helps you this season.

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Claudine Peabody

    I live in Ontario Canada and in a few days, there will be frost. I have a lot (about 100) still green ground cherries on the plant.

    I saw online that we can harvest them and put them in a closed box. I tested this a few days ago, since it’s not going below freezing yet. It’s been about one week and I went back to the box to shake them around to kind of air them out and help them to dry. Some have dried up a little bit and their fresh green colored husks are now pale green/yellow. I tasted one and it’s almost there. I’m crossing my fingers that in a couple more days they will be ready.

    I still have a few more days before the temperature drops then I’ll need to harvest the rest.

    I also heard that some people bring the whole plant inside and hang it upside down in a rafter in their basement. It gives the ground cherries some more time to ripen.

    I how this helps someone.

  2. Ollie Oakley

    Hey Christy,

    I’m pretty sure there are others out there who have the same question you answered in this post. I have a friend who also grows ground cherries and we both like eating them straight out from the husks.

    1. Debra

      I have ground cherries in my yard and they never turn yellow. They look just like the ones in your picture, but they are green with purple hues on some. When they fall off the vine, the vine is usually dead. Not just dead but dried up dead. The groundcherries are still merrily green. I have tried everything to get them to turn yellow, from sitting them in their husks for three weeks, then putting them in the window in their husks for a week, then taking them out of their husks and still putting them back in the window to get some sun It is now December 5th, they are still green and beginning to shrivel. I must admit, I have been eating them, one or two at a time, since I first picked them off the ground six weeks ago. They are delicious, but I wonder if there can be some kind of cumulative toxicity if I put a bunch in a salad or cooked dish and they haven’t turned yellow.

      Please help me with this question. Are there groundcherries that don’t turn yellow but are still ripe, just as there are tomatoes that turn yellow or red but they are still ripe tomatoes? Tomatillas stay green when they are ripe, so can’t some groundcherries be of a green variety that doesn’t turn yellow when ripe?

      1. Christy

        Hi Debra, the sources I’ve checked don’t say anything about whether there are any varieties that stay green, though some mention that there are different species that behave differently. That said, I’m going to advise you the following: green means the toxin present in members of the solinaceae family is still there. So be careful about consuming too many of them in the green stage. I saw one source that says that if it tastes bitter, don’t eat them. Since you said they are delicious, I can assume they don’t have any bitterness. Leave them in their husk to ripen as long as possible. I’ve had some that take more than a month to turn. So will shrivel (discard those) but the rest will turn in time.

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