All the Physalis types yield fruits loosely enclosed in papery husks (including the tomatillo, which we list separately), and nearly all come from the Americas. All are started just like tomatoes and are super easy to grow; they do not need to be staked! Few people realize that the Physalis varieties store extremely well when kept in their protective husks, lasting for quite some time under refrigeration. They are used fresh or cooked, and are very juicy and sweet. Husk cherries are grown in the very same manner as tomatillos. Some gardeners line the base of each plant with a piece of fabric mulch to catch the dropping fruit and keep them clean for easier berry collection.
Ground cherries are close relatives of tomatillos, considered a type of “husk tomato.” The flavor is often more tangy than sweet, and tastes more like a vegetable than a fruit, but not the New Hanover: it’s sweet, fruity, and addictive. It can be hard to save seeds from these because you’ll want to eat every fruit! Preserved by the late Katie Hoffman Slonaker (1903- 1983) in New Hanover, Pennsylvania, until becoming a part of the Roughwood Seed Collection; this variety is likely to become popular once again. We think it tastes better than common cultivars. At a tasting held by the American Institute of Wine and Food, it beat all other ground cherries tested!