The ground cherry, also known as husk tomato or by its botanical name Physalis, is easy to grow and bears enormous numbers of tasty fruits, each protected in its own papery husk. Smaller than their ornamental cousin the Chinese lantern and much sweeter than their other cousin the tomatillo, they’re especially popular with children who enjoy popping the bright yellow, marble-sized fruits out of their husks.

This simple custard pie concentrates their flavor and reveals a surprising new facet of these fruits. I typically make this with frozen ground cherries, since all of the harvest that isn’t eaten fresh goes into the freezer, a quart per plastic bag, to cheer us up in those grey days of late winter.

  • 1 pie crust
    [Use your favorite or a ready-made crust, but consider trying Stephanie Jaworski’s amazing pâte brisée (at, complete with a video). You can whip it up in the food processor in minutes and it tastes wonderful. Her shortbread crust ( is equally easy and goes well with this pie, especially in a tart pan.]

  • 4 cups fresh or frozen
    [I defrost my frozen ground cherries in the microwave, a minute or two at a time, pouring off the liquid into a cup for the cornstarch mixture.]
    ground cherries, husked
    [Husking a quart of ground cherries is the most time-consuming step; consider doing it while watching television or conversing. Don’t worry if a fair number of the fruits are greenish; they add needed tartness to the finished pie.]

  • 2 eggs

  • ⅛ teaspoon salt

  • ⅔ cup sugar or agave nectar

  • 1 tablespoon flour

  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch

  • 1 cup (at most) yoghurt

    [If you have juice from defrosted frozen fruit, use all of that first, then add yogurt until you have a cup or so.]

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.

  2. Pre-bake the crust a bit, say 10 minutes.

  3. Remove from oven and fill with ground cherries.

  4. Whisk eggs with salt, sugar and flour.

  5. In a coffee cup, dissolve the cornstarch in a little bit of the juice
    or yogurt, then stir in the rest to make about a cup in total.

  6. Add the cornstarch mixture and vanilla to the eggs and whisk well.

  7. Pour the custard over the ground cherries and bake for ten minutes.

  8. Reduce the temperature to 350°F and continue baking for an additional 25 to 30 minutes, then in ten-minute increments until a knife inserted in the center comes out mostly clean. When done, the ground cherries will have shrunk a bit.

  9. Cool, then chill.


I’ve adapted this from a recipe by "Molly53" at Originally, all I did was quadruple the amount of fruit, but I’ve made a few more changes since then.