Remember when I told you we had planted Ground Cherries for the first time? And how I told you that none of us had ever actually tasted them. Sometimes taking a risk is a good thing, and this was definitely one of those times.
It turns out that ground cherries grow prolifically in pots (and probably about anywhere else you put them). They have the odd habit of dropping their fruit before they are ripe. That isn't a problem, though. Those little husks around the fruit protect them and they continue to ripen on your counter, or on the ground. After a few days to a week or so, they darken to a beautiful golden color. Just peel off the husk and pop one in your mouth. It's bite-sized heaven. They have a sweet, slightly pineapple flavor and they are wonderful.
At first, we couldn't tell when they were ripe. We kept popping open the husks only to find a light yellow or even greenish fruit. Eventually we clued in to the husk color changes and things got easier. While the fruit is still on the plant, the husks are green. They begin to turn yellowish, and the plant drops the fruit when the husks are about the color of a manilla envelope. After the fruit drops, they continue to ripen and the husk continues to change. It begins to get a dry papery feel, and changes from the color of a manilla envelope to an ever-so-slightly pinkish brown. The change is subtle, but if you learn to see it, you'll have a better success rate of opening a golden fruit.
I decided some of our golden fruit needed to become a golden jam. The seeds are much softer than raspberry seeds (which we leave in our jams because we're funny that way), and they are entirely edible. I left them in the jam to provide some bulk and interest. If you can find some ground cherries, I highly recommend making a jam to brighten your morning toast.
Golden Ground Cherry Jam
6 cups hulled ripe ground cherries
1/2 cup filtered water
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup mild honey or unrefined evaporated cane juice sugar
1 tsp vanilla
about 3 Tbsp No Sugar Needed Pectin
Sterilize your jars and have your canning gear ready if you plan to can this. Otherwise, you can just freeze it.
Cook berries and water until the berries begin to pop open (this only takes a few minutes.) Don't cook on too high heat or you will scorch your berries and be sad. Add lemon juice and cook for about 10 minutes. Puree (I use a stick blender, but if you don't mind a mess, you can use a blender). Add sweetener and pectin (add pectin in slow sprinkles and stir to avoid making pectin lumps). Bring to a boil for 2 minutes. Add vanilla.
Water bath can for 15 minutes. Or if canning scares you, just freeze it in jars or plastic tubs. If you freeze your jam in jars, I highly recommend leaving 1 inch headspace and leaving the lids off until it is frozen. I have had a few jar catastrophes in my freezer when I left too little headspace and put the lid on. Frozen jams and liquids expand. Jars don't. You have been forewarned.
Now you can grab one of the bread recipes here on the blog (check the recipe label in the sidebar), make some fresh bread and smear on some of this golden wonderfulness. It's the recipe for a fabulous start to the day.
Have a great day!
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