By far my favorite thing we grow in our garden are ground cherries. Also called cape gooseberry or husk cherry, are in the same family as tomatillos, and similarly have a husk encasing them as they grow. Once they are ripe, the ground cherries turn from light green to a rich yellow color. They will typically fall off of the vine and the husk will appear dry, being very easy to remove, much like a tomatillo.
Unlike the tomatillo, ground cherries are quite sweet and are perfect for turning into preserves or pie filling. While they are mostly sweet, these little nuggets of flavor have a bit of a savory quality to them, lending them well to roasting and adding to salsa, chutney or other savory sauces. They have a sweet flavor that, to me, tastes like vanilla, and they are wonderful either eaten raw as-is, or cooked and used in various dishes. I add a bit of vanilla to my preserves to complement those vanilla notes and I often add a bit of ginger as well for something different.
This recipe makes just 1 1/2 pints, but can easily be multiplied if you have an overload of ground cherries from your garden or farmer's market haul. If you do double or triple this and want longer-term storage, I recommend turning this into freezer jam. I don't have instructions on canning for this recipe, so freezing it is the safest bet if you make more than you can use in a couple of weeks.
Ground Cherry Preserves with Vanilla
Makes 1 1/2 pints
4 cups de-husked ground cherries
1/3 cup sugar/sweetener of your choice
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbs lemon juice
Optional add-in: 1" fresh ginger, finely minced or 1/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger
1. Remove the husks from the ground cherries and rinse them to remove any dirt.
2. Place in a medium sauce pan and add the sugar, water and salt in the pan as well. If using ginger, add at this time. Turn to medium heat and bring to a boil.
3. Reduce the heat to low and let simmer until cooked down to about half of the original volume and the mixture becomes quite thick and jam-like. This should take about 30 minutes or so. While it simmers, stir frequently to prevent sticking or burning, and to help the ground cherries burst as they cook to release their stored juices.
4. Remove from the heat once thickened and stir in the vanilla and lemon juice. Let cool to room temperature before transferring to glass or other storage jars.
5. Refrigerate or freeze as desired. This will keep for 2-3 weeks in the fridge or several months in the freezer.
Brine & Broth
I am a nutritionist in Southwest Wisconsin, focused on traditional, nutrient-dense foods. My goal is to provide you with simple and delicious recipes that fit into real life, and information for choosing healthful real foods. Enjoy!