As I was embarking on perfecting my ground cherry salsa to enter into the Hot Sauce Festival this summer, I realized I had a dilemma. The festival was to be held at the end of August, but ground cherries peaked in June/July here in central Texas. So I had to figure out a way to preserve them for a couple months.
After thinking through some options, I decided freezing them was the route to go. Thankfully, it worked and the salsa turned out great! So I thought I would share how I did it, just in case you want to preserve your ground cherry harvest for months to come.
1 Remove the husk from the ground cherry and toss into a strainer until all the ground cherries have been de-husked.
2 Rinse the ground cherries with cool water. You might even want to use your hands to move the ground cherries around while rinsing.
3 Let them dry on a clean towel. I placed a towel over a cookie sheet so they would stay contained, and then let them air dry. If you are pressed for time, you could always roll them around in a towel to dry them by hand. Either way, make sure they are completely dry as this is important in the freezing process.
4 Once the ground cherries are dry, place them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Place them in the freezer for 30 minutes to an hour to flash freeze them. Then pour out and store in a plastic zip bag.
Be sure to label the bag with the date. I could not find a recommended timeframe ground cherries will last in your freezer, but tomatillos (which are from the same family) are recommended to last in the freezer from 10-12 months.
It should be noted that once you freeze ground cherries, they are best used for sauces, salsa or in baked goods as they won’t be the same texture as when they are fresh.
To defrost, simply lay on a towel on your counter for about 30 minutes or run cool water over them until they have fully thawed.
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