Recipes

Recipe: Tyrant Farms’ ground cherry preserves

Recipe: Tyrant Farms' ground cherry preserves  thumbnail

We know what you’re thinking: “ground cherry preserves? I eat ALL my ground cherries the second they drop on the ground!”

In case you've never heard of them, these are ground cherries (Physalis pruinosa). These little physalis fruits made us fall in love with heirloom seeds a decade ago. Their husks turn brown and they fall to the ground when ripe. The husks are pulled back in this image, and should be removed entirely before eating.

In case you’ve never heard of them, these are ground cherries (Physalis pruinosa)! These little physalis fruits made us fall in love with heirloom seeds a decade ago. Their husks turn brown and they fall to the ground when ripe. The husks are pulled back in this image, and should be removed entirely before eating.

We echo that sentiment, and seldom have enough ground cherries left in our harvest basket after a garden walk to make them into anything other than a small fresh fruit snack later on. However, this summer, Aaron has been working to get the farm set up for Oak Hill Cafe & Farm, a new farm-to-table restaurant in Greenville opening this winter (if construction stays on-schedule!).

Our friend Chris Miller from Yeah That Garden Guy holding 10 pounds of freshly picked and husked ground cherries from the field at Oak Hill Cafe & Farm.

Our friend Chris Miller from Yeah That Garden Guy holding 10 pounds of freshly picked and husked ground cherries from the field at Oak Hill Cafe & Farm.

Two 50′ rows of ground cherries were grown and those rows have been cranking out between 10-20 pounds of ground cherries each week. Most of the ground cherries have been sold to other local chefs/restaurants. However, this week 5+ pounds of ground cherries were left over.

A metal bowl full of ground cherries creates a neat kaleidoscope effect.

Mmm. A metal bowl full of ground cherries creates a neat kaleidoscope effect.

What to do with so many ground cherries? The ground cherry plants in our yard provide us with all the ground cherries we need for fresh eating, so we decided to use them in a ground cherry preserves recipe that we’ve played with on a much smaller scale over the years. The preserves will be shared with the team and may also be included in a future Oak Hill Cafe popup dinner.

Preserves vs Jam vs Jelly 

Quick review of the difference between preserves vs jam vs jelly:

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  • Preserves – Preserves are chunky and contain the whole fruit. We like the chunky texture and the extra fiber content from the seeds and skin of the whole fruit.
  • Jam – Jam may also contain who fruit or at least fruit pulp, but the fruit has been puréed.
  • Jelly - Jelly is basically just the juice of the fruit with all the fiber removed (seeds, skin, pulp) which produces a transparent product with uniform consistency. We prefer eating whole fruit products, but jellies may be necessary for small seedy fruit like elderberries that wouldn’t make great whole fruit preserves.
Trays of ground cherries after being husked and cleaned. For long-term storage longer than a few days, it's best to put ground cherries into a ziplock bag in the veggie drawer of your fridge.

Trays of ground cherries after being husked and cleaned. For long-term storage more than a few days, it’s best to put ground cherries into a ziplock bag in the veggie drawer of your fridge.

So, this ground cherry preserves recipe contain the whole fruit and the fruit has not been puréed – the individual ground cherries pop and blend together as they cook.

Recipe: How to Make Ground Cherry Preserves

Boy did this ground cherry preserves recipe turn out delicious! The flavor notes include: pineapple upside down cake, stewed peaches, caramel, tropical fruit, and cream.

If you like precision, here you go! As you can see from our Dymo digital scale, this recipe used 5 lb 7 ounces of ground cherries. Adjust this ground cherry preserves recipe according to the amount of ground cherries you have available.

If you like precision, here you go! As you can see from our Dymo digital scale, this recipe used 5 lb 7 ounces of ground cherries. Adjust this ground cherry preserves recipe according to the amount of ground cherries you have available.

We took small tastes of the ground cherries as they cooked down. The flavor of the reduced ground cherries alone (nothing added) was delicious and intensified as the water content reduced.

In these three chronologically ordered photos, you can see how much the pot of ground cherries reduced over the course of an hour. We moved the pot to a small burner at the end to make room for a large part where we boiled/sanitized our canning jars. Ground cherry preserves recipe.

In these three chronologically ordered photos, you can see how much the pot of ground cherries reduced over the course of an hour as the water evaporated. At the end, we moved the pot to a small burner to make room for a large part where we boiled/sanitized our canning jars.

Ground cherries also sweet and have a fairly high sugar content on their own, so there’s not much cane sugar added to the preserves recipe below.

Start with some butter in your pan to keep the berries from sticking and to add some additional creaminess to the final flavor of your ground cherry preserves. You'll also add a little water to help prevent fruit scald, as the recipe instructions below indicate.

Start with some butter in your pan to keep the berries from sticking and to add some additional creaminess to the final flavor of your ground cherry preserves. You’ll also add a little water to help prevent fruit scald, as the recipe instructions below indicate.

Oh, and if you don’t have one already, please get yourself a good canning set like this one from Norpro.

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Tyrant Farms' Ground Cherry Preserves
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves: 8.5 cups
Ingredients
  • 5 lb 6 oz fresh ground cherries
  • 1 cup organic can sugar (or to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons grassmilk butter
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (or 1 tsp citric acid)
  • 2 tablespoons pectin
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1.5 shots of brandy (or to taste)
Instructions
  1. Add butter to pan on medium heat. Once melted, add ground cherries and stir to evenly coat the fruit with butter. Cook and stir butter and ground cherries for a few minutes, then add ½ cup water to help prevent fruit scald and sticking.
  2. Add lemon juice and let cook and reduce for about 1 hour on medium heat (depending on quantity of ground cherries and desired thickness), stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. The more the ground cherries reduce, the faster they can potentially start sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  3. After one hour, prepare/sanitize your canning jars in a pot of boiling water - if you're not using a pressure cooker.
  4. Mix in pectin. Then mix in sugar and bring the pot to a quick boil to get the pectin to set. Reduce or remove from heat after the preserves reach boil, continuing to stir to prevent sticking.
  5. Just before canning, mix in brandy and vanilla. Both of these ingredients contain volatile flavors that will dissipate with prolonged heat exposure, so adding them just before canning maximizes their flavor preservation.
  6. Can and store your ground cherry preserves! *Yield will vary depending on how much water you cook off of your preserves.
Ground cherry preserves on our 5-minute organic, whole wheat artisanal bread.

Ground cherry preserves on our 5-minute organic, whole wheat artisanal bread.

Ahem… it would be downright criminal of us not to tell you that these ground cherry preserves are AMAZING served on our 5 minute whole wheat artisanal bread – recipe here! Now go get cooking!

KIGI,

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  • Seashell Sarah

    Do you have a Latin name for these ground cherries? Are these like the wild ground cherries I see growing in farm fields and pastures? My hope is that the wild ones I see around here in PA are not poisonous.

    • http://www.tyrantfarms.com susan von frank

      Hi Sarah! They’re Physalis pruinosa. They are a native plant, but we’ve never actually seen them growing in the wild where we live in Upstate South Carolina. There are plenty of native night shades that are poisonous, so do be very careful with what you eat and make 100% certain you’ve properly ID’d it.