Ground Cherries vs Tomatillo: 7 Differences You Need to Know

The tomato family has given us many delicious relatives. These relatives can be used in various recipes and products. Also, each member of this family has its unique flavor.

Ground cherries and Tomatillos are just two examples of tomato varieties. Despite their noticeable differences, many people confuse them easily.

If you want to know the differences between ground cherries and tomatillos, this article will shed some light on their differences and basic characteristics. In this comparison, we will help you easily distinguish the two varieties.

Ground Cherries vs. Tomatillo
The main differences between Ground Cherries and Tomatillos are their taste, size, color, natural habitat, plant features, uses, and ripe signs. Both fruits belong to the tomato family but are not red like ripe tomatoes. Ground cherries are either orange or yellow, while Tomatillos are green.

What are Ground Cherries?

Ground cherries are a unique type of tomato that looks like no other. They are tiny cherry tomatoes with a golden shade. Ground cherries are covered with husks.

They have a mixed flavor that combines the sweetness of tomatoes and mangos with a bit of tanginess and their outer fuzzy appearance. Ground cherries taste like a mix of tropical fruits. The botanical name for ground cherry is Physalis pruinosa.

Ground cherries are known to provide the body with numerous health benefits. They are rich in vitamins C and B3. They are also a decent source of vitamin A. Ground cherries are generally yellow, but they can come in orange too.

In a way, ground cherries would look like tiny oranges, and their flowers resemble bells. Ground cherries can be eaten as a snack but can also be used in some dishes, such as salads or pies.

The origin of ground cherries is believed to be Brazil. However, this delicious fruit found its way to the rest of the world. In the middle of the 18th century, it reached South Africa and other parts of the world.

What is a Tomatillo?

When you hear the word “tomatillo” for the first time, you might think they are just baby tomatoes. However, they are not similar to tomatoes. Tomatillos have husks covering the tiny fruit. These husks’ presence might be why this fruit is called husked tomatoes.

The natural habitat of this fruit is Mexico, but it is commonly found all over the Americas. This fruit’s widespread cultivation is due to its disease resistance. The main color of tomatillos is green. However, it can be found in yellow too.

 Just like ground cherries, tomatillos can be eaten raw. However, they can also be used in various dishes. The taste of tomatillos combines the acidity of an unripe tomato with a bit of an earthy flavor. You can’t miss the fruit’s acidic flavor when you enjoy a bowl of raw tomatillos. But things are different when cooked.

Cooking and mixing with other ingredients makes the overall taste of tomatillos sweeter and less sharp. This is why it is used to make different salsas.

What are the Differences between Ground Cherries and Tomatillos?

Ground cherries and Tomatillos work just fine as a snack between meals. Also, they can add significant value and taste to various dishes.

However, they can’t substitute tomatoes. Also, they can’t replace each other. Both of them have a husky cover and small fruits. Aside from these few similarities this comparison will reveal numerous differences.

1. Taste

Tasting both ground cherries and tomatillos is more than enough to identify them. Ground cherries combine sweetness and tanginess. So, ground cherries provide a tart or bitter flavor and a sweet taste.

Tomatillo, on the other hand, is more on the acidic and earthy side. It has a sour taste, which is not only the case with unripe tomatillos. The ripe fruit retains the same flavor.

2. Size

Another important factor to consider when distinguishing between ground cherries and tomatillos is their size. Tomatillos have much larger ripe fruits than ground cherries.

The former can grow to be around 1.20 cm in length, while the latter is at least twice that size. Usually, tomatillos reach a size ranging between 2.50 cm and 5 cm.

3. Color

The color of ground cherries and tomatillos is different. Ground cherries are either yellow or reddish-orange, whereas tomatillos are mainly green. Sometimes, you might come across purple or yellowish tomatillos, but they are not as expected.

4. Natural habitat

Despite some apparent similarities between ground cherries and tomatillos, they do not share their natural habitat. 

Currently, ground cherries and tomatillos are found worldwide, but this was not the case a few centuries ago. Ground cherries originated in Brazil, while tomatillos originally came from Mexico.

5. Plant features

If you are interested in growing either or both plants, you should know that they are very different. For instance, the tomatillo plant is generally taller, as it can reach a height of 1.21 meters. Ground cherry plants, on the other hand, are nearly 0.91 meters tall.

Also, the shape of the leaves of both plants can help you in the ground cherries vs. tomatillo comparison. The ground cherry plant has fuzzy cordate leaves, while the tomatillos have oval ones. The latter is also not as fuzzy. Some of its varieties are without any fuzz.

6. Uses

While both tomato varieties can be used as snacks, ground cherries are a better option. This is due to its sweeter and less tangy taste. Aside from eating them as a snack, you can include ground cherries in various salads.

Also, they are a better ingredient in making various fruit jams. On the other hand, Tomatillos remain a better option for making delicious and rich sauces. Tomatillo sauces are widely used in Mexican cuisine.

7. Ripe signs

Tomatillos are ripe when their husky covers turn brown. Also, the fruit fills the husk and will look a bit torn. You can be sure that ground cherries are ripe when their husks are fully dry.

Ground Cherries vs. Tomatillo: are they the same?

Ground cherries and Tomatillos are not the same fruit. Both are known and found all over the world. Also, they belong to the tomato family. They are also small fruits with various tangy and sweet flavors. Yet all these common characteristics do not make them identical.

Ground cherries are yellow or orange, while tomatillos are green. The former is a bit sweeter, whereas the latter is more acidic and bitter. Also, the plants and fruits of tomatillos are generally larger than ground cherries. The latter has fuzzier and more cordate leaves, whereas the former has oval leaves.

Lastly, they can be used interchangeably but won’t have the same taste or effect. Ground cherries are better used in salads and jams or eaten as a snack, while tomatillos make better sauces.

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