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Pichuberries (aka ground cherries) now available in Texas stores

Addie Broyles
abroyles@statesman.com

Have you ever tasted a ground cherry?

A relative of the tomatillo, this little husked golden orb is also called a cape gooseberry and, as of late, the Pichuberry, a trademarked variety coming out of Peru whose Arizona-based parent company is touting the fruit’s antioxidants in its sales pitch. Some local farms have been known to sell them at markets, but availability can be spotty.

Starting this month, Austinites can find Pichuberries at some Texas H-E-Bs and Central Markets, but what’s a cook to do with them? I first tasted ground cherries in Missouri, but we’d always just eat them out of hand while strolling through a garden. When I received Pichuberry samples last month, I shared them with as many friends and neighbors as I could, if only to spread the word about how these sweet, piquant little sunbursts tasted. They are an easy substitute for cherry tomatoes in salsas or pico de gallo but also can be used in compotes, jams, marinades and sauces that you could serve with grilled pork or chicken.

I took a different route and baked a rustic Pichuberry tart, tossing the fruit in a little sugar, cinnamon and cornstarch and folding up in a pie crust. The gooseberries burst in the oven, but the cornstarch thickened their juices, creating an almost savory dessert that was perfect with a scoop of ice cream on top. The Pichuberries cost $5.50 for eight ounces, and you can find more recipes and tips at pichuberry.com.

Have you ever eaten or cooked with ground cherries/cape gooseberries? Swap stories and tips in the comments or over on the Relish Austin Facebook page.