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Recipe: Tyrant Farms’ ground cherry preserves

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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:

  • 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.

ground cherry preserves recipe
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Tyrant Farms' Ground Cherry Preserves

Keyword: ground cherry, preserves
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings: 8 .5 cups

Ingredients

  • 5 lb 6 oz fresh ground cherries
  • 1 cup organic cane sugar *We prefer a less thick, less sweet preserve. However, if you want a thicker, sweeter preserve you can go up to 40-50% of the fruit weight in sugar, or 2.5 pounds.
  • 2 tablespoons grassmilk butter
  • 1/2 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 1/2 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 canner.

  4. Mix in pectin. Bring the pot to a rolling boil stirring constantly to prevent sticking. Then add the sugar, bring to boil again for about 1 minute. Reduce or remove from heat after the preserves reach boil, continuing to stir to prevent sticking. Use a cold spoon from your freezer to spoon test the preserves to make sure they're as thick as you want them. If not, continue to cook and use the spoon test every 5 minutes or so until desired consistency has been achieved.

  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. Fill sanitized jars with ground cherry jam, and boil them for at least 15 minutes. Jar lids should make a "pop" sound and seal soon after removing from boiling water bath. Cool your ground cherry preserves and store them! *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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9 Comments

  • Reply
    Nancy Woodrow
    August 27, 2021 at 11:46 am

    what kind of pectin did you use…theres powdered, liquid, etc.

    • Reply
      Aaron von Frank
      August 27, 2021 at 1:01 pm

      Sorry for any confusion, Nancy. We used pectin powder.

  • Reply
    Mary Reetz
    May 22, 2021 at 10:01 am

    I used to live with an elderly lady who canned ground cherries (which I just love) but they would stay whole, tDo you have any advice on how to can cherries and keep the whole? I would really appreciate it!

    • Reply
      Aaron von Frank
      May 22, 2021 at 10:18 am

      That’s really interesting! Not sure how you can cook (or even ferment) ground cherries or any other fruit without the fruit popping and the juices coming out. When you say the fruit was whole, do you mean it was chunky like a preserve or do you mean it was 100% intact?

  • Reply
    Colleen
    September 22, 2020 at 3:18 pm

    Sadly this didn’t set at all for me.
    I feel like I wasted 5.6 pounds of fruit.

    • Reply
      Aaron von Frank
      September 25, 2020 at 5:36 pm

      Oh, no! So sorry to hear this Colleen. Can you help us figure out what went wrong to avoid any future negative outcomes? Couple questions:
      1) Did you cook the ingredients down for an hour as the instructions suggest? That really cooks out a lot of the water and thickens up the preserves even without the pectin and sugar added.
      2) Did you add the pectin then boil then add the sugar? Sometimes people add the sugar before the pectin or add them at the same time, which can cause it not to set properly. We’ve tried to really clarify that point in the instructions.

      Lastly, if your preserves are too runny for your preferences, don’t give up! When we’ve accidentally made runny preserves or jams in the past, we’ve been able to “save” them using this method: https://foodinjars.com/blog/canning-101-how-to-save-runny-jam/.

  • Reply
    Ruth
    September 22, 2020 at 12:18 pm

    Hi! Could you substitute the sugar for honey. We follow a paleo diet so we don’t use sugar. Thanks!

    • Reply
      Aaron von Frank
      September 24, 2020 at 11:35 am

      Hi Ruth! We’ve never made preserves with honey so can’t say for certain. I will say that from what I’ve read in various research, there’s virtually no difference with how your body processes honey vs cane sugar. Neither is terribly good for you, so should be used in small amounts. Raw honey does have some unique health benefits, but cooking could diminish/degrade those. One possibility is to go sugar or honey-free and just add something like stevia instead, but you’d need to cook the ingredients way down to thicken them or use some other setting agent that doesn’t require sugar to work.

  • Reply
    susan von frank
    August 23, 2018 at 1:09 pm

    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.

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