Imagine thick vine-y bushes dotted with hundreds of small, parchment-like Chinese paper lanterns. Imagine peeling back the slightly translucent, vein-y papery husk of one of these lanterns to reveal plump berries that look like miniature orange tomatillos. Imagine, now, biting into that berry and discovering a sweet yet acidic, slightly floral burst of musky strawberry-pineapple goodness. If you can imagine such a unique range of images and flavors, you have successfully conjured the strange but wonderful husk cherry. But if such a combination seems outside of your imaginative prowess, do not despair, for we are fortunate enough to be able to sample these cherries now at the farm.
Husk cherries, also called ground cherries or Cape gooseberries, are from the Nightshade family, and are closely related to the tomatillo. They are called ground cherries because they fall from the vine when they are ripe, thus requiring that they be harvested from the ground. Besides falling from the vine, the husks turn yellowish-brown and the berry from green to yellowish-orange when they fully ripen. The best way to know you have good berries is to gather them from the ground, carefully lifting up the growing vines to get at the fallen fruit underneath. Gather cherries with a yellowish-brown husk that feel plump under the papery exterior. Avoid cherries that are too brown or seem mushy or deflated (these are old and have started to dry out). Also, avoid eating unripe green husk cherries.
To store your husk cherries, keep them in their husks, uncovered and well ventilated, at cool temperatures (preferably around 50 degrees). They will last at least a couple of weeks. To freeze husk cherries, remove husks before freezing.
Husk cherries are low in calories, fat, and cholesterol and are a very good source of vitamin C. They also contain good amounts of niacin and vitamin A. Apparently, they are also filled with natural pectin, so they are great cooked and made into jams or marmalade, into pies and tarts (if you can get enough of them), or even into cooked salsa. Try adding them to muffins or quick breads. They can even be dried, like raisins.
Husk cherries are also delicious raw. Try chopping raw husk cherries up into a relish or salsa, or add them to salads (see recipes below). Of course, you can simply eat them as is, which is truly a special treat.
But whatever you do, don’t skip out on trying these unusual but delectable treats, lest you be forced to conjure them up in your imagination, like the rest of us will, once their short season is over!
This tart is beautiful way to use up delicious seasonal peaches, husk cherries and raspberries.
Peach, Husk Cherry, and Raspberry Pie with Almond-Oat Crust
– 3/4 cup organic old fashioned oats
– 3/4 cup blanched slivered almonds
– 2 tablespoons maple syrup
– 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
– 2-3 tablespoons organic palm shortening, as needed
– 2 large medium ripe peaches, peeled, pitted, and thinly sliced
– 1 cup husk cherries, husked and rinsed
– 1/2 cup fresh raspberries
– 2 tablespoons organic palm sugar
1. Spray a 9” inch tart pan with removable bottom with coconut spray.
In a blender, food processor, or clean coffee grinder (whichever you have that will work best to break down the small amount of oats and almonds to a flour), blend oats and almonds to a flour but stop before the almonds gum up into almond butter. Its fine if they have a wee bit of texture to them. Transfer mixture to a bowl and with a fork, blend in salt and maple syrup until well blended. Add in 2 tablespoons of shortening and mash in well with fork until shortening is evenly distributed. Press mixture together with fingers. If it holds together well do not add any more shortening. If it seems dry and up to another tablespoon of shortening until mixture comes together. Press dough evenly into bottom and partially up sides (about 3/4 way) of tart pan. Chill for 1-2 hours.
2. Preheat oven to 350℉. Remove chilled dough from refrigerator and prick bottoms and sides with a fork. Place in oven and bake for 10-12 minutes or until set and edges are just beginning to brown. Remove from oven.
3. Arrange sliced peaches on bottom of tart. Sprinkle evenly with husk cherries and then with palm sugar. Place in oven and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven (it works best to put a un-rimmed baking sheet under it to help transfer it without disrupting the crust). Sprinkle with raspberries and return to oven. Bake for another 20 to 25 minutes, or until peaches have released some juices and husk cherries are puffed with a few beginning to burst. You do not want too much juices in the tart or else the finished tart will be too wet.
4. Remove tart from oven and all to cool on a rack for about 30 minutes. Juices should thicken slightly. Remove tart sides and place tart on a serving plate. Serve with cashew cream, whipped coconut cream, or regular whipped cream.
Tired of watermelon yet? These canapés make a great appetizer for Labor Day.
Watermelon Canapes with Whipped Feta and Pistachios
– Whipped Feta
– 1 7 ounce package feta cheese, crumbled
– 1/4 cup mild flavored, high quality extra virgin olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon
– 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
– zest of half a lemon
– 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
– 1 small watermelon, flesh cut into 1 1/2 ” triangles
– 1/4 cup pistachio nuts, roughly chopped
1. For whipped feta: Place feta, pepper, lemon zest, and red pepper flakes in the bowl of a small food processor. Gradually add oil while processing on high until mixture is smooth, If you wish to use a small blender, place all ingredients in the blender at once and then blend until smooth.
2. If your watermelon has seeds, use a toothpick to gently pick out seeds without destroying the integrity of the triangles (there can be small holes in the pieces). Place watermelon pieces on a platter. Using a small melon scoop or small spoon, place about 1 1/2 teaspoons whipped feta in the center of each watermelon piece. Sprinkle canapés with pistachio nuts, trying to get as many nuts on the canapés as possible. Serve immediately.
We’ve got cherry tomatoes coming out of our ears. This beautiful, intensely flavored tart is a delicious way to use a whole quart of these gems.
Cherry Tomato Tart with Whipped Feta and Quinoa-Almond Crust
– 1 cup uncooked sprouted quinoa (or rinsed and dried regular quinoa)
– 1/2 cup almond four
– 1/4 teaspoon salt
– 1 large egg, preferably pastured and organic, lightly beaten
– 1 quart cherry tomatoes, washed and stemmed
– 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
– 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
– 1/4 teaspoon salt
– 2 tablespoons fresh minced basil
– heaping ` 1/2 cup whipped feta or boursin cheese, softened
1. Preheat oven to 350℉. Place dry quinoa, almond flour, and 1/4 teaspoon salt on a baking sheet and bake for 7 minutes to toast. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Place almond and quinoa mixture in the bowl of a food processor and blend until you almost have flour (but still have some chunks of quinoa). Add egg and pulse until mixture well incorporated and mixture sticks together when pressed with your fingers.
2. Spray a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom with olive oil spray (or brush with olive oil). Press quinoa mixture into tart pan, going up the sides (just be sure that the bottom layer is not too thin or the crust will crack and separate). Place tart pan on a baking sheet and place in the oven. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until edges are browned and crust no longer appears wet. Remove from oven and place tart pan on a cooling rack. Allow to cool completely.
3. Meanwhile, Heat a skillet on medium-high heat. Add extra virgin olive oil and heat. Add cherry tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until most tomatoes pop and release their juices and the juices thicken up, about 20 minutes. Add sliced garlic and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in basil. Allow to cool to room temperature. Mixture should be thick, not runny once cooled, like a jam with large chunks of tomato in it.
4. Spoon whipped feta or boursin cheese into the center of the cooled tart crust. Gently spread it evenly over the bottom of the crust (an offset spatula works great for this). Spread the room temperature tomatoes over the cheese evenly. Serve at room temperature.
113 Simsbury Road, West Granby, CT 06090