We know what you’re thinking: “ground cherry preserves? I eat ALL my ground cherries the second they drop on the ground!”
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!).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Oh, and if you don’t have one already, please get yourself a good canning set like this one from Norpro.
Tyrant Farms' Ground Cherry Preserves
- 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
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.
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.
After one hour, prepare/sanitize your canning jars in a pot of boiling water - if you're not using a pressure canner.
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.
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.
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.
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!