My son has a new digital camera, and he spent a recent morning taking close-up pictures of every plant he could find in our yard. He came inside with an unusual fruit in his hand. It was light orange, and it was hidden inside a paper-like husk. It was an aguaymanto.
I had seen one before, and i thought it was yet another exotic tropical fruit. I was surprised to learn it is native to both North and South America, and that many North Americans eat aguaymanto in pies and jams all the time. Various species can be found growing wild all over the United States, and you can find them for sale at farmersí markets.
Aguaymanto has various names in English: groundcherry and cape gooseberry seem to be the most common. The Mexican species is more well-known: the tomatillo. In South America it shows up in sauces, drinks and savory dishes as well as desserts. The flavor is hard to describe. Itís acid but sweet, like a pineapple or a tart strawberry, but it also tastes a little bit like a tomato (tomatoes are cousins). Groundcherries are sweetest when they are very ripe, when their husk is brown and the fruit is orange-red.
My favorite way to enjoy aguaymanto is in a version of the famous Pisco Sour. Groundcherry juice replaces the traditional lime juice in this recipe for Aguaymanto Sours. If you canít find wild groundcherries in your neighborhood, subsitute passion fruit juice, or any tart fruit juice of your choice. Here are some other recipes to try: