It’s that time of year again when my one of my favorite farmers market treats appear. Husk cherries, also known by and called a husk tomato, cape gooseberry, winter cherry, groundcherry, and jamcherry. I wrote a post on them a few years ago but can’t help but share again and they really are a tasty treat.
With a tomato/pineapple-ish taste to them they are perfect for popping in your mouth for a healthy/semi sweet treat (they are great source of Vitamin A as well as vitamin C, niacin, thiamine and iron) or making into salsas, pie or gallette, and muffins or breads. They would also lend themselves well to jam as they have a good deal of pectin.
These tiny fruits are a member of the nightshade family as are eggplant, potatoes, peppers, and tomatoes of course. They mature in late summer (here in the northeast) around the same time as other tomatoes. The biggest difference from tomatoes are these are covered in a paper-like husk that protects them from dirt and bugs – just like a tomatillo has. To harvest you need to wait until the fruit falls to the ground as they contain the same solaine toxin that a green potato has – being a member of the nightshade family (read poison). Once harvested if you leave the paper husk on they’ll last a couple of weeks in a non-humid kitchen counter…if you don’t eat them all first!
I didn’t actually mean to go into all of that but you know me, I’m a details girl. 🙂 What I actually wanted to share with you is that husk cherries are back at the Rockland Farmers Market, two vendors now carry them, and this week a pint came home with me. Up until this year I’ve never done anything else with them except break away the husk and eat them – this year I wanted to try something different. I’d narrowed it down to muffins, salsa or a gallette. When I remember that this was the weekend my bonus son was coming to visit, and knowing how he loves chicken, I thought a husk cherry salsa with grilled chicken would be a perfect combination (along with the Zucchini & Summer Squash Gratin that my family wanted me to make after having it on our schooner trip a couple of weeks ago).
Husk Cherry Salsa
Pairs well with chicken, fish or with your favorite tortilla chips.
1 cup cherry tomatoes, small in half, medium – large quartered
3/4 cup cucumber, diced
3/4 cup husk cherries, husked and halved
1/4 cup shallot or red onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 a jalapeno pepper, seeded, deveined, diced very finely
1 tablespoon juice from a lime, about ½ lime
1 tablespoon cilantro, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
Cut tomatoes and let the juice drain for 5 minutes – unless you like a wet salsa then disregard this step. Gently combine all ingredients and serve. Refrigerate any leftovers.
Makes approx 2 cups