I am growing Aunt Molly’s ground cherries this year and have had numerous people comment on their toxicity.  It is true that the leaves and unripe fruit are poisonous and even fatal if ingested, ripe fruits are not and can be made into jellies, jams, and sauces.

Ground cherries (Physalis spp.), often called cape gooseberries, are native in many parts of the United States and often grow in fields and alongside roads


Aunt Molly’s: This Polish heirloom with a captivating citrus flavor takes 70 days to fruit.
Pineapple: A popular variety with a distinct pineapple taste, this one takes 75 days to fruit and stores well in husks.
Goldie: This variety also takes 75 days to produce masses of large, golden fruit.


These plants aren’t overly picky about their soil type.  They are considered weeds where I live (zone 8a) and will grow anywhere with no water or care. 

I have two plants in my garden with my tomatoes and they are flourishing so just tending to them as you do you other vegetables.

My ground cherries shade out any weeds so they easy to harvest but if you have an issue with weeds, you could use landscape fabric, so the cherries fall on to it instead of the ground.


Ground cherries typically bear fruit about 70 days from transplant and continue until frost. The ground cherries husks will turn yellow and fall to the ground when they are ripe. 

I gather them and keep them in a basket (still in their husk) until I am ready to use or freeze the fruit.  I understand they will stay fresh for up to three months by doing this. 


Remove the husks and rinse the fruits before preparing. Husked fruits keep in the refrigerator for five to seven days.

To freeze ground cherries, simply spread the husked, washed fruits on a rimmed cookie sheet and place them in the freezer. Once they’re hard, package them in plastic bags.

You can simply remove the husk and eat them fresh, make salsas, desserts, jelly, and preserves.  I made a Ground Cherry Limeade Jelly with mine.  Oh my goodness.  It tastes like summer in a jar.

If you would like the recipe, you can get it HERE. 

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