Difference Between Tomatillos And Ground Cherries

Ground cherries and tomatillos are related to very popular tomatoes. Additionally, they are popular for their application in a wide range of dishes, as well as some desserts. Unfortunately, they can easily confuse you.

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These two are both covered in a husk – a somewhat papery husk. That makes you wonder, are ground cherries related to tomatillos? Well, to be honest, they are very closely related. They are from the same genus. Even so, they have certain differences that you should know about.

So, how do you tell a ground cherry from a tomatillo? Well, we have prepared this post to help you understand how these two differ from each other. Let’s dive right in.

A General Overview

Before we get into the differences, let’s look at a general description of ground cherries and tomatillos.



The name tomatillos translate to ‘little tomato’ in Spanish. They are fruits that are mainly found in Mexico. Their green color makes it easier for you to confuse them with green tomatoes. You might hear people call them Mexican green tomatoes.

The flower calyxes develop the husks that cover the tomatillos. Normally, they can be planted similarly to tomatoes and will grow to around 1.5 meters. As they ripen or grow, they will change color to yellow. Some varieties, however, might be purple.

You can choose to enjoy tomatillos cooked or raw. Even though it is used to make different sauces and amazing dishes, you can enjoy it in purees.

When it comes to the taste, they are more acidic than tomatoes.

Finally, tomatillos are harvested throughout the year. When it ripens, the fruit will drop on the floor.

Ground Cherries

Ground Cherries


Ground cherries can also be used to refer to as Golden cherries. Just like tomatillos, they have husks. The reason for their name is that they will fall to the ground after the fruit ripens. That is where you collect them when you need them.

Additionally, they are small – almost the size of a cherry. Regardless, the name can be used to describe different types of fruits. Are tomatillos also called ground cherries? To be honest, tomatillos are sometimes referred to as Mexican ground cherries.

You can choose to use ground cherries in salads, or simply enjoy them raw. A ripe ground cherry can be identified using the dry husk.

You can find orange or yellow ground cherries. They are noticeably smaller when compared to tomatillos, which is one easy way of telling the two apart.

Tomatillos vs. Ground Cherries – The Difference

Tomatillos 2

Now, are ground cherries and tomatillos the same thing? Well, in this section, we will dive a bit deeper into the difference between the two. But first, a table that gives you a quick idea of how the two differ from each other. Here we go.

Tomatillos vs. Ground Cherries Ground Cherries Tomatillos


Alternative Names Cape Gooseberry Husk tomato, Mexican ground cherries
Size ½ an inch Around 20 inches
Color Yellow or Orange when Ripe Green or yellow or purple
Varieties Cossack Pineapple, Goldie’s, Aunt Molly’s Mexican, Purple de Milpa, Pineapple, etc.
Botanical Names Physalis peruviana Physalis ixocarpa
Dishes                   Salads, salsas, tarts, pies Soups, Sauces, Curries, Salsa, etc.


As you can see from the table, these two are different. Their main differences include the fact that tomatillos are larger than ground cherries. Additionally, their ripe colors are different. While tomatillos are green, ground cherries are either yellow or orange. Here is a more detailed comparison of the two.

The Size

In terms of size, tomatillos tend to be larger than ground cherries. You can expect a tomatillo to be around 5cm and a ground cherry to be a smaller 2 cm.

Their Colors

When ripe, tomatillos will turn green or yellow. Even so, other varieties become purple when they become ripe. Ground cherries, however, will either turn orange or yellow.


tomatillos leaves

Tomatillo plant leaves have an oval shape. They might either have some hair or not. Ground cherry plant leaves have the shape of a heart. They are also very hairy.

Plant Size

Ground cherry plants will not grow as tall as tomatillo plants.

The Taste

Do ground cherries taste like tomatillos? Well, ground cherries are much sweeter compared to tomatillos. Additionally, they have less acidity. There are tomatillo varieties that need to be cooked so that their flavor increase and the acidity levels drop.

The Uses

Ground cherries are mainly enjoyed raw. Tomatillos, on the other hand, are preferred for making sauces.

Storage and Harvesting

When they become ripe, both of these plants will behave the same. Their husks will become full and will change to brown. Additionally, they will fall, which means that they will be ready for harvesting.

When it comes to storage, tomatillos can last around 3 weeks at temperatures around 45 degrees Fahrenheit. You can choose to dry them or even freeze them based on your preference.

Ground cherries are best when dried. If you use an air-tight container, you can enjoy them for around 3 weeks.

Also, read: Difference between Amish Paste Tomato, Roma, and San Marzano


These two are similar in more ways than one. After all, they are closely related. They also have the same husks. Regardless, their differences are noticeable. That includes their specific sizes. While ground cherries are small, tomatillos will grow to around two times the size of ground cherries.

Additionally, they differ in their color and can be used in different types of foods. We hope that you can now tell these two apart.

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