This week we will have husk cherries and tomatillos available for pick-your-own. These are interesting additions to our heap of summer produce as they both have quite unusual, distinct flavors and they both grow inside of husks.  Husk cherries are ripe when they turn orange and the husks become papery.  Ripe tomatillos are green and their husks will be papery and starting to split.  Both husk cherries and tomatillos fall to the ground when they are ripe, so you can actually gather them from the ground rather than picking them off the plant.

{{<Public/StoneSoup/photos/groundcherries.JPG|Ground_Cherries|}}Husk Cherries, also known as ground cherries, cape gooseberries or Peruvian cherries, are sort of an oddity in the produce world. From the species called Physalis, this group has fruits that are commonly enclosed in papery calyxes and are called “Chinese lantern plants” because of this unusual formation. The genus is characterized by the small orange fruit similar in size, shape and structure to a small tomato, but partly or fully enclosed in a large papery husk that look like tiny tomatillos. You won’t find these grown on a large scale because their picking tends to be too labor intensive for large commercial farms. They are used for desserts and salads, and their high pectin content makes them great for preserving. Eaten out of hand also seems to be an excellent choice for enjoying them. As for their unusual taste, I have heard them described as pleasingly tart at first bite, followed by an intensely fruity, somewhat sweet, almost floral taste—like a cross between a tomato and a grape. They are also delicious when dried like raisins.

Tomatillos, which translate to “little tomatoes,” are often the stars of Mexican and Southwest cooking. The tomatillo, also called the husk tomato, is just one of nearly one hundred Physalis species and they are a relative of the ground cherry. Varying from one inch in diameter to plum-sized, resembling the green cherry tomato, the tomatillo (pronounced tohm-ah-TEE-oh) is considered a culinary delicacy. The green fruits are enclosed in a wrapper-like husk creating the appearance of an Asian lampshade. Easily peeled away, the fruit is inside this dry papery cover. Having a unique gelatinous texture, the flesh offers a zesty sweet and spicy flavor with a citric edge. This fruit is most often cooked to develop its excellent flavor, as the raw fruit has a sharper acidic taste. More popular cooked than raw, tomatillos are excellent in cooked salsas and sauces but also can be used raw for salads, guacamole, gazpacho or use as a garnish for cold soups. Tomatillos love the company of herbs and spices and onions, cilantro, chili peppers and garlic enhance their flavor.