It’s in season, but what is it? Three fall fruits to try.

Can you name this fruit?

It’s called the ground cherry, but it’s not a cherry and it doesn’t grow on the ground.
It’s a fruit but it’s got plenty of savoriness.
It looks like a tomatillo, tastes like a strawberry crossed with mango, and is usually mistaken for a cape gooseberry.
Is there an identity problem here?

Heirloom ground cherries have been making first-ever appearances at farmers markets around the country, and it seems that no one knows what to do with them. The flavor is hard to classify, with its tomatoey qualities and tropical fruit overtones. It’s more a question of too many uses rather than too few. You can pop them in your mouth like grapes or chop them like tomatoes into salsa. They’re sweet enough for jam, pies, and muffins, but pair well with pepper, basil, and salty cheeses like feta.

.It’s a pity the name Ugli Fruit was already taken.

Pawpaws are speckled, they’re splotchy, and they keep getting uglier, the riper they get. They have a shelf life of just a few days and don’t ship well. These factors must explain why they are so little known outside of their native Appalachia because if it were just a matter of taste, pawpaws would have a place in every fruit bowl. The caramel-yellow pulp is smooth, juicy and custardy, falling somewhere in between banana and mango in consistency.

While the ground cherry can be an acquired taste, pawpaws are love at first bite. The flavor roams the tropical spectrum, with hits of mango, papaya, pineapple, and banana. You can use pawpaws in baked goods, but they are best with the least amount of cooking— spoon the flesh straight from the skin, blend it in smoothies, or make some pawpaw ice cream.


The outlier of the group.

I know, I know… there is nothing new here. We all know figs. Or do we? If you’ve only eaten figs in Newton form, you haven’t eaten figs.

Moist and pillowy, peppered with a gush of crunchy seeds, fresh figs are resonant and complex. Their flavor has been described as a cross between a peach and a strawberry; while there are hints of each, figs have a lushness and earthiness not found in those fruits. On their own they are highly perishable, but in baked goods they will naturally preserve moistness and extend freshness.

Figs can go sweet or savory, appearing in cakes, tarts, and jam, and they match well with cured and game meats; but they need very little help to shine. So little, in fact, that a recent controversy developed when prominent east coast chefs disparaged west coast cuisine for the lazy pretension of overly stripped-down cuisine, epitomized by unadorned figs-on-a-plate passing for dessert at seemingly every restaurant in San Francisco.

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5 Responses to It’s in season, but what is it? Three fall fruits to try.

  1. Janice says:

    Try the Fair Food Farm Stand at Reading Terminal. They should have them for a few more weeks.

  2. Ah, we were growing ground cherries at the CSA I was working at over the summer, but I wasn’t able to stay in the area of the farm long enough until they are ripe….I can’t find these anywhere. Whole Foods maybe?

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  4. RavieNomNoms says:

    Ground cherries are SO delicious!

  5. pup says:

    Thanks for the intro to 2 new fruit!! You learn something new everyday!!

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