Ground cherries, also known as husk cherries, are piquant little yellow orbs that try like crazy to grow into their papery husks. A relative of the tomatillo, it is harvested when it falls off of the plant (hence the reference to ground?). Since they’re typically in short supply around here, I add them to add spark to tomatillo salsa and mix them in with a cherry tomato salad, but this year, with a fortunate abundance, I decided to make them into a scrumptious jam. I cooked them in a little water, as I do cranberries and blueberries so that I can gauge the amount of sugar. I bet these are high in pectin since they set up quickly.
1½-2 pts ground cherries, yielding 1½ c after husking
½ c water
Approximately ¾ c sugar or a little less
Make sure the ground cherries are free of dust and dirt. Place them in a saucepan with the water and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Cook until the ground cherries start to collapse, and mash them lightly with the back of a spoon.
Remove from the heat and measure the fruit. Return the fruit to the pan and add sugar equal to ½-3/4 the measure of fruit. I had 1cup fruit, so I added a scant ¾ cup of sugar.
Bring the mixture back to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat, place a crumpled piece of parchment paper on top and set aside for 2-3 hours or overnight (in which case it should be refrigerated. The purpose of this step is to build up the gelling capacity.)
Prepare jars for water bath canning. Place a saucer n the freezer for testing the gel. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook over medium high heat for about 5 minutes. Start testing for gel. Mine reached gel stage in less than ten minutes. Pour into prepared jars and process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes after the water returns to a boil. Turn off the heat and remove the canner lid and let sit for 5 minutes before removing to a counter to sit undisturbed until cool.
Makes ½ pint (2 four-ounce jars) and extra for tasting.
Categories: Ground cherry, Husk cherry, Preserving
I wish I had found your blog earlier this year. I found ground cherries at a farmer’s market last year, and a plant at our local garden center this spring. This summer, I found them… EVERYWHERE. In the beets, in the tomatoes, in the leeks, in the lawn, in the flower bed clear across the lawn (about 150 feet). A lot of them went into the compost pile. (Both the rogue plants that popped up like an invading army, and the copious amounts of fruit.) I couldn’t eat or give them away fast enough, they’re not safe for my parrot, and I couldn’t figure out what to DO with them. I’ll definitely be trying this next year; I imagine it would be a good local substitute for my favorite snack, too — pieces of gruyere dipped in fig jam.
I’m a little worried about their being invasive but we’ll see what comes up next year. I also made ground cherry jam with rosemary though I didn’t post it. The piney character of the herb cut the sweetness of the jam. And, I just posted a salsa verde that used them combined with tomatillos, link above. You’re right, it’s as versatile as fig.