Sunday, September 14, 2008

Ground Cherries, Wonderberries, and Shiso

There are three things that are really cool with the above selection of produce: 1) they're all organically grown; 2) they each taste really unique and delicious; and 3) I PICKED THEM MYSELF!

I know the majority of the "civilized" world would not get excited about picking their own produce but I, for one, think it's fantastic. Here I was, back at the organic farm, volunteering my time in exchange for a bit of an education in gardening/organic farming, and I was put to work weeding the spinach beds I'd passed through last week. Although it was fun uncovering the poor little spinach from it's weedy invaders, I was happy when Rowena asked me to come with her to pick some berries.

I started crouched beside some ground cherry plants, trying to find the yellow skinned ones that had either fallen off the plant or easily seperated from it. This plant is quite difficult to manoeuvre around since it groes low to the ground and has long chunky branches which are reminiscent of rhubard. But leafy-er and growing fruit and not red.

Seeing as I was a bit too slow, Rowena traded places with me and I jumped onto the wonderberries. Although they're a berry by name, these little delights are related to the tomato family (if I listened properly). They tasted fruity but you couldn't miss the tomato resemblance. They were, deep down, quite similar in flavour to the ground cherries only that these were slightly more pineappley.

Finally, I was put to work prunning the shiso plants. Now shiso, according to my research, is the same thing as perilla which is part of the mint family. The resemblance to mint is unmistakable. These little leaves, in addition to being beautifully two toned, are quite pungent. Though they are a bit, shall I say, grassy-er than their minty relatives. And they're apparently used in Chinese medicine to stimulate the immune system. So plant a bush in your front yard today. No one would know that your front yard is edible.

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